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Ilona Keserü

Hungary
b. 1933
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“I understood and accepted that studying what we see in real life, and depicting it with lines, colours and forms, is the path that leads to abstract creative work.”

Born in 1933 in Pécs, Hungary, Ilona Keserü completed her studies at the Painting (Fresco) Faculty of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 1958. An important figure of the neo-avantgarde generation of artists formed in the 1960s, she was also a member of the IPARTERV group. Later, Ilona Keserü taught drawing and painting at the University of Pécs from 1983 to 2008. She has had many exhibitions throughout Europe and in the US, and has been the recipient of numerous awards. She lives and works in Budapest.

Her early career was characterised by monochrome works influenced by abstract painting or gesture painting. In 1967, she discovered the heart-shaped gravestones of the cemetery at Balatonudvari (Hungary), which became a central and lasting motif in her painting, and in the 1970s, she began to use textile applications and prism colours worked into geometric shapes. Her work draws on universal, natural shapes which are then rendered in an abstract manner.

Orange-Pink Approach, 2000

oil on canvas, 300 x 200 cm
photo: Gábor Horváth S.

Shapes that are rich in associations with the tombstones returned in her bas-relief textile works in the 1970s, in her graphical reproductions and later in her paintings as well, including Orange-Pink Approach (2000). Throughout her work, “tangled” configurations often appear, emerging from these rounded shapes, expressed at times in a pared-down, minimalist way, and at other times with great passion. Her colours and surfaces are vibrant. Because of the emotional richness, wild and elemental movements of her images, she can also be considered one of the most influential representatives of Hungarian lyrical abstractionism.

Ocean, 1997

ink and chalk on paper, 113 x 157 cm

Mimikri, 1969

oil and appliqué on wood with frame, 41x 36x 5 cm
on loan from a private collection