Creation Date



image preview


oil on canvas, and acrylic and plaster on cardboard boxes


Dimensions: approximately 3' (floor area)

Artist Statement

The October, 1956 Hungarian Revolution was short lived, but the two weeks of freedom Hungary enjoyed brought many good changes to the country. Most importantly, it opened the eyes of the Western world to the atrocities of Communism behind the Iron Curtain. The signature symbol of the victory was the Hungarian flag with a gaping hole ripped in the middle where the Communist emblem of the wheat-and-red-star used to be.

I was twelve years old at the time and to see the joy in everyone’s eyes was the most exciting experience of my life. Sadly, soon, the Russian tanks rolled in and left desolation in their wake. The freedom fighters, young men and women, and even children, fought the tanks with machine guns and Molotov cocktails. In a matter of days the glory turned to gore and thousands of Hungarians chose to flee, rather than continue to live under tyranny.

My memories of the Revolution are fragmented and I chose to paint it as a somewhat disjointed, but powerful image. The painted layers, one obliterating the other, echo the sequence of events. The fist layer is acrylic and collage for the background buildings in Budapest and the cobblestoned streets. The second layer is a metaphor for the “players” – collaged paintings representing the victors, the fighters and the weepers with a tank ominously rolling in on the right. The last layer, painted in oils, is the blast, emanating from the Molotov cocktail the freedom fighter throws under the Russian tank. Rubble is everywhere, invading the space directly in front of the painted images.

My family immigrated to America and I am grateful for the welcome we received and the opportunities I have enjoyed being an American citizen. In this piece I wish to commemorate the historic event that changed my life and brought me to freedom.


© Gizella B. O'Neil, 2014. Photo credit: Jim Cauthen.


blast, terror, bloodshed, tears, fire, explosion