George Bartko was born in Hungary and now spends half the year on the island of Vinalhaven, off the coast of Maine, and his winters in Budapest, where he keeps an apartment and art studio.
As a teenager he apprenticed for three years to the Hungarian painter Lajos Saabo before coming to the United States in 1956. He earned a BFA in painting and printmaking at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his MFA in painting and printmaking at the University of Florida, Gainsville. He went on to teach painting, drawing and lithography at St. Louis Community College in Missouri.
Although George paints descriptively, his formal concerns are rooted in color. With a life-long interest in the history of art, George often looks to the Venetian painters of the 15th Century for whom color was poetry. George’s involvements lie not in the poetics of narrative, but in the poetry of the effect of form modulated by color. He says of his intention: “I ask from a viewer an attention span longer than required to identify the contents of a painting. I invite the viewer to explore the way I resolve the delights of appearances.”
George’s paintings, monotypes, and lithographs have been exhibited at prominent institutions including the St. Louis Art Museum, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. He has received several awards, including a grant from the Ford Foundation.