Contemporary realism equine art -
Detail of "Unbridled" by Christina Szakonyi

Realism artist Christina Szakonyi takes us behind the scenes of her equine painting, “Unbridled.”

Contemporary Realism: Painting “Unbridled”


What qualities make an artwork truly great? This question seems to inhabit my mind more and more and the answers are as unique as the individual answering the question. For me, the work I am most excited about creating has the magic combination of beauty, mystery, and emotion. This trifecta is what I aspire to with each and every piece I create.

Contemporary realism equine art -
Christina Szakonyi, “Unbridled,” Oil and Gold Leaf on Panel, 36 in x 18 in

With my most recent piece, titled “Unbridled,” I have referenced historical icons of power, both in imagery and materials. The horse, both a physically powerful animal and an emblem of influential power as often appearing with the kings of the past, prances proudly on the gilded surface. Why? No mechanisms of outside control appear to be present, yet the horse performs with graceful precision.

“Unbridled” aspires to question the assumptions we make about ourselves; what we believe ourselves capable of compared to what we can or cannot accomplish in reality.

How many of our choices are truly our own? How many choices are dictated by some outside force? How many choices do we falsely believe are out of our control?

The horse seems to pin us with an unyielding stare.

How honest are we with ourselves about our choices? Are we underestimating ourselves? Are our actions in alignment with our true selves?

My first love was drawing, so I wanted to treat the painting as if it were a drawing; to somehow capture the same essence and simplicity seen in an old master drawing. To do this I layered monochromatic paint with gold leaf, allowing the reflective qualities of the gold to act as the “paper” while manipulating the paint on the surface.

Contemporary realism portrait drawings -
Christina Szakonyi, “Scars (self portrait),” Charcoal on Paper, 13 in x 7 in

While my work may be about a specific personal experience, I want the viewer to interpret and experience it in their own way. For example, my self portrait titled “Scars” speaks of my personal decade-long battle with cystic acne and the scars left behind. We all have our own battles, and our own scars, that shape who we are. I am driven to create work that reflects the human experience while also inspiring contemplation, regardless of subject matter.

Contemporary realism portrait drawings -
Christina Szakonyi, “Downpour,” Charcoal on Paper, 23 in x 18 in
Contemporary Figurative Art -
“Morning Muse” in progress
Contemporary Figurative Art -
Christina Szakonyi, “Morning Muse,” Oil on Panel, 10 in x 10 in

ABOUT THE ARTIST Contemporary realism equine art -

Christina Szakonyi is an award-winning representational artist living and working in Florida. Her interest in art began at a young age when she spent her summers drawing the characters of traditional animation and the horses surrounding her home. She later studied art in college, where she earned an associate degree in graphic design.

It wasn’t until several years later that she sought out more rigorous training in traditional fine arts with Jonathan Hardesty of ClassicalArtOnline and Charles Miano of the Southern Atelier. Her work has been exhibited nationally, and she was selected as one of 21 Under 31 Young Artists to Watch in 2017 by Southwest Art Magazine. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at Florida State University and an Associate Member of Oil Painters of America.

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