Painter, graphic artist. Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, 1927-1936. His master was Ágost Benkhard. 1936 Bertalan Székely prize, and the award of the capital, 1944 graphic award of the Szinyei Merse Association, 1947 UNESCO scholarship, Paris, 1978 prize of (Szép Magyar könyv) the Good Hungarian Book tender, 1982 silver medal of the IBA – International Artbook Exhibition, Leipzig, 1988 Winter Exhibition, Miskolc grand prize, 1989 Excellent Artist's Award, 1990 Winter Exhibition, Miskolc grand prize. 1992 Kossuth Prize, 1993 honorary freeman of Miskolc. His unique talent in painting was discovered when he was a primary school pupil. His drawings about the war were exhibited in Vienna at the end of the Second World War. He started his artistic carrier as a painter, but quite soon the Indian-ink, the pen-and-ink drawing became his exclusive tools. He was driven by the work of illustration, the easily reproductive line drawings without shade of colour. He studied at the community of artists in Miskolc. He spent 9 months in Paris when he interrupted his studies at the college. (1930-31) First of all he studied Picasso's work. His drawings are about call for social rights and ethical behaviour. His topics are: everyday life, biblical and mythological scenes (Greek and Roman). Temperament and expressive approach (for example the deformed, too long limbs at the beginning of his carrier, the influence of Derkovits) are there with his unique way of drawing, and the renewed personal figurative style. Pure lines, black Indian-ink with its thin or thickening accumulated curves: these are declination and conjugation of Szalay's demanded and used artistic practise, which was already there as a specific drawing style in the early 1940s and is considered as an important product of the Hungarian drawing in the 20th century. He believed that books (sole drawing books or illustrations) were his most important forms of appearance. Rather than the exhibiti-ons, this was the easiest way for him to the viewers. He introduced drawing books as an adequate representation of artwork. (60 drawings of Lajos Szalay, 1941). Drawings of Lajos Szalay, 1945 etc.)
He illustrated books of poetry, novels and dramas for Hungarian and world literature. At the same time, he also made coloured book covers. Beside his published series of illustrations, some works remained plans. The Brothers Karamazov (the edition of a purely visual version of the book, he planned with István Farkas), drawings of Don Quijote and his illustrated autobio-graphy which he started in 1960. (My biography)
In 1947 he worked in Paris. Between 1949 and 1960, he was a professor at the University of Turcuman and at the Academy of Applied art in Buenos Aires. One of his students was Enrique Barilari. In the 60s and 70s he had influence on the Hungarian graphic artists through his work "Genesis". After his New York period (1960-88) he returned to Hungary and settled down in Miskolc. When he returned home, he offered 450 of his drawings to different Hungarian museums.
Since 1992 his works have been displayed at a permanent exhibition in the Gallery Miskolc.