Tamás Péli ( Hungarian-Roma, August 7, 1948 - Nov. 22, 1994 )
From a tender age, he fascinated the adults around him with his unusually mature artistic expression. He himself remembers his childhood thus:
Péli attended the Amsterdam Academy from 1967 to 1974. The five years he spent in Holland brought him some basic knowledge in the field of visual arts; possibilities of new experiments and a great deal of useful experience. Péli learned to work with new materials and techniques: he used polystyrene, aluminum, glass, wood and metal. However, he thought of himself above all as a painter and continued to create monumental panel paintings. He designed frescoes and glass panes and attempted a concrete relief. His largest work of all, a composition called "The Old and New Testaments", was a glass pane measuring 72 m². He created it in his fourth year at the Academy (1972). Péli even tried sculpture: within only a half year, he created eighteen large wooden sculptures which were sold right after they were exhibited. During his stay in Holland, Péli was already creating works in which his personal contribution is more apparent than the influence of old Renaissance masters. From among these, let us name at least "Memento mori" (1969), "A Zsidó menzassyony" ( "Jewish Bride") (1970), "A hölgy majommal" ( "Woman with a monkey") (1972) and "A Cigány Krisztus" ( "Gypsy Christ") (1970).
In 1973, Tamás Péli returned to Hungary for good. He now had a clear idea of his future life and his main mission: to inform the public about Roma culture and traditions through his art. He met with József "Choli" Daróczi and together they launched a project of instructing young Roma pupils in a Budapest primary school. They organised camps and circles for the visual arts, and they also founded a band. Choli acquainted Péli with the lives of Roma in settlements. From them Péli drew great inspiration for his own art. A wide circle of artists and intellectuals gathered around him, and his atelier was constantly buzzing with activity. At that dynamic time he created further important works, above all portraits of young girls, but also a series of Indian portraits and a famous portrait of Bishop Bartolomé De las Casas, as a young missionary.
We can surely count Tamás Péli among the most famous Roma artists not only in Hungary but in the entire world. His work ranks among world-class paintings.( Rombase)