Ilona Keserű Ilona, exh. cat., Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest (25 September – 14 December 2014), Budapest, Szépművészeti Múzeum
Cangiante colouring in Ilona Keserű’s new paintings, Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 25 September – 14 December 2014→
Ilona Keserű, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, 28 March – 21 April 2018
A former student of the High School of Fine and Applied Art in Budapest (1950-1952) and the Hungarian University of Fine Arts (1952-1958), Ilona Keserű, one of the most prominent artists of the neo-avant-garde formed at the beginning of the 1960s, was a member of the Iparterv group and the Atelier Budapest. The development of her abstract pictorial language was highly influenced by the work of her professor in Pécs, Ferenc Martyn, as well as a sojourn in Italy from 1962 to 1963. Her calligraphic drawings from this period announced her dynamic compositions of vigorous colour, primarily based on gestures and ordered in series. Structured by these gesture and geometric organisation, her work abounds in organic figures with baroque silhouettes, entanglements and labyrinths enlarged to monumental dimensions, executed in various forms (paintings, collages, assemblages). After 1966 she created costumes and monumental theatre sets. In 1967 she discovered headstones in the shape of hearts in the Balatonudvari cemetery, which became key motifs in her paintings for some time.
Beginning in the 1970s the various nuances of human skin tones were combined with warm hues from her powerful palette. In the 1980s the artist began studying the optical phenomenon of a spectacle born behind closed eyelids from strong light effects, and proceeded to analyse the colours of these after-images. A professor at the University of Pécs since 1983, I. Keserű is one of the founding members of the Master School of Fine Arts in Pécs, where she has been professor since 1991 and where she has directed the doctoral school since 1995. She has received a number of awards, including the Kossuth Prize in 2000.