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Canvas Guide

King Give Us Soldiers, Zsolt Bodoni

Installation view at Green Art Gallery, 2013

For his first solo exhibition in the Middle East, Hungarian artist Zsolt Bodoni explores childhood games and how systemic education shapes youth.

Through this show at Dubai's Green Art Gallery, Zsolt Bodoni uses King Give Us Soldiers as a reference to the games children that play, a seemingly innocent title that explores a more sinister subject matter. His paintings feature youthful characters who engage in scenes of physical education, an apparent nod to the artist's early life in Hungary under Communist rule, which praised youth's physical strength through conformity. "The whole idea behind the show is about how education leads to something else through sport or games, to something else like war," says the artist.

Bodoni, who took part in the gallery's group show, Referencing History in 2012, also explores the representation of the human body, and how it has evolved throughout art history. In focusing on the female form, he examines the cult of health and beauty in Europe that prevailed in the mid-20th century. "Through sports, human representation was modified into a vision of conformity," explains Bodoni. "Everybody was similar ­- young, healthy and beautiful, but losing their personality. Socialist propaganda at the time represented the woman as a working machine and a mother; she was becoming more masculine and powerful, and served the purpose of giving birth." Bodoni talks to Canvas about King Give Us Soldiers, and tells us he is curious to know people's reactions to the show.

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