October 2 2003, translation of the Opening Speech by Gabor Gorgey, Vasarely Museum, Budapest

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The event happening to-day in this exhibition is a true development of our country. Not by expanding borders, nor with political manoeuvres, but with a realisation of the spheres of spirit and soul.

I'm talking about this because, since our 2nd liberation in 1990, with short-sighted passion or cynicism, a lot has been spoken about Trianon, which of course is a tragedy for all Hungarians. But to believe, or to pretend to believe, that there is any reality in territorial revision is worse than naivety. Indeed, I would call it historical blindness or irresponsibility totally lacking in reality as we all become members of the European Union.

However it is the duty and mission of us all to develop the spirit of our nation. This doesn't need politicians, it needs wisdom and the need to acknowledge those Hungarians, torn away from their country of origin who, with their talent and the help of fate, have built a new life in their new chosen country. They were able to succeed abroad in what they had no chance of accomplishing here. Yet they did not reject their roots.

As the Australian Ambassador just stated, Australia is proud of Judy Cassab who has become one of their most prominent artists. Now she has returned to Hungary with her paintings for the first time since she fled as a refugee in 1951. Returned triumphant with well-earned pride, leaning back on a majestic life's work.

Without wanting to scare His Excellency into thinking that I might try and lure back their great artist who has become what she is in Australia, nonetheless I must still call this a spiritual repatriation.

Judy Cassab, with wonderful colours in her art, has returned to the place which she started from. We won't take her away from Australia the country which adopted her, but let us consider her ours as well. This Solomonic division is possible only in art.

Judy Cassab, leaving behind a happy childhood, lived through all the horrors which a Hungarian, a middle European, could endure in a war and a "final solution". And she survived! She suffered personal and family tragedies but she survived. This is not only a matter of luck but the triumph of the will to live, a triumph of the optimism which shines through her achievements in art. In her portraits, landscapes and in the desert rocks which she discovered to her amazement.

In her gigantic life's-work, I admire the many bold trials and experiments. When she had depleted a theme, a territory, a way of expression, she had the courage to abandon it and search for a new one. This boldness is the source of her constant renewal.

I am happy to be the first to welcome her home and hope that she will feel at home along with her paintings. Let me finish my opening with her own words, from the finishing sentence of her rich Diaries of 1993:

"My life will last until God lets me make the last brushstroke."

I hope she does not make that last brushstroke for a long time.

Gabor Gorgey, Counsellor-in-Chief to the Hungarian Prime Minister, former Minister for Culture.