Sculptor’s heart remains in Hungary

The Gazette
Montreal, Sunday, November 20, 1988
by Debbie Parkes of the Gazette

He’s lived in Canada for 31 years, but sculptor Paul Lancz, 69, says his heart remains in Hungary. Not every immigrant feels the same way, says Lancz apologetically. But he says many of them do, in particular those who come here in their mid-or late- adult years. You can’t change," Lancz says. You stay European or Hungarian or Greek. Your heart stays there as long as you live." Since coming to Canada, Lancz has made a name for himself through his bronze-cast sculptures, which include the likenesses of Cardinal Leger , Abe and Allan Bronfman, actress Jayne Mansfield and former United States President John F. Kennedy. The last of these, commissioned by Henry Birks and Sons, now sits in a park at the corner of Jeanne Mance and President Kennedy boulevards. He says it is comforting for him to know that the Kennedy monument is something " lasting and beautiful he gave to the city. Artistically and architecturally, Montreal is all too monotonous, he says. And that, he adds, is where North American cities are no match for the capitals of Europe.

Making their living

In Europe, sculptures, monuments and great architecture are present just about everywhere you go, Lancz says. Here," I feel alone as an artist" When he left Hungary, 200 people in that country were making a living as sculptors, he says. Here, he knows maybe 20. He left after the Hungarian revolution , at the age of 38. He didn’t want to talk about the specific reasons he chose to leave his homeland. He doesn’t like to talk publicly about politics, he explained. He came to Canada in January 1957 with his wife, Elizabeth, and their then -five -year -old daughter, Annie, and with his two brothers and their families. Lancz’s other child, Peter, 31, was born in November of that year. For the first year, the three families rented an apartment on Querbes Ave. in Outremont. All together they were 10 people. After they had saved enough for a down payment , the three families bought a cottage on Durocher Ave. Lancz still lives there today. The three families lined together in the Durocher Ave, home for eight or ten years. Then, his two brothers, Leslie,76, and George, 68 , and their families. , bought a duplex a few houses away. It’s meant a lot to Lancz to have his brothers living nearby. Unity makes you stronger ,’’ he says. Throughout the years, the three have run their won picture-framing business, Hungarian Art Studio , on St. laurrent Blvd. " If I were living in Budapest, I would get together with other sculptors there. I could live more of a social life.

Could have been better

"Here, I don’t find the same connections." Definitely, he says the different environment shows up in an artist’s works. " I could have been a better artist if I had stayed there,’’ Lancz says. " I can imagine I would have been happier in those surroundings" But on the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference. "maybe it’s just the memories he says.