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One character, thousands of stories

Botond Részegh’s exhibit “Nightfall,” which is on display at Northeastern’s Gallery 360 until March 9, tells a story.

It centers on a main character, former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was imprisoned for 10 years on embezzlement and tax fraud charges. But it also represents the countless other political prisoners whose stories are unknown.

“This is about freedom,” said Részegh, a Romanian-born graphic artist and Northeastern’s current artist-in-residence. “This is about how we choose our own path.”

The 30-piece exhibit includes sketches and acrylic on paper. It began in 2011 as a series on Daedalus, the father of Icarus in Greek mythology. But when he heard Khodorkovsky’s story, he decided to change his focus, an easy decision.

“This is a contemporary story that is absolutely close to my soul,” explained Részegh. “It was not hard to change the subject of the series because this kind of human condition is close to me. For me it was absolutely interesting.”

Khodorkovsky is a Russian businessman who was arrested in 2003 and served 10 years in prison on fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering charges. Many in the international community believe his incarceration was politically motivated.

Részegh knows something about the lack of freedom. Részegh was 12 years old when Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was assassinated in 1989, bringing an end to communist rule there.

“I was marked by that era and so were a lot of my friends who are writers and poets,” Részegh noted.

He finished many of the exhibit’s pieces late last year, noting that the amount of time he spends on any given painting is nothing compared to the hours he logs while practicing. It could take him 10 hours to prepare for a piece that he could complete in a couple minutes.

In addition to the Gallery 360 exhibit, Részegh’s month-long residency at Northeastern includes another public event taking place Friday afternoon in which he will have a conversation with Albert László Barabási, the newly installed Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science at Northeastern. The two became friends in 2007 when Részegh illustrated one of Barabási’s books, and the talk is expected to touch on the extent to which the friendship between scientists and artists influences their inquiry.

The event, which Részegh described as a “conversation between friends,” will take place on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Visitor Center.

He noted that he is grateful to Barabási, associate professor Isabel Meirelles, and campus curator Bruce Ployer for the opportunity to showcase his work at Gallery 360, a 1,000-square-foot space located in the corridor between Ell Hall and the Curry Student Center.

Részegh’s residency also includes interacting with art students in the Art + Design department and offering a workshop in the class of professor Mira Cantor about printing techniques.