Lajos Szalay and the Jászi Gallery

Personal history of the gallery owner

Lajos Szalay and the Jászi Gallery

My own bond with the art of Lajos Szalay began with a personal experience. At the end of the 1980’s, I regularly spent summers in Szilvásvárad, where I was often invited around the neighbourhood. One of these invitations lead me to the home of a ceramist couple where I discovered screen prints by Lajos Szalay hanging on the walls. I was deeply impressed by the works and I started to inquire about the maker of these prints. Then, at fourteen years of age, I found out that the artist was living in Miskolc, so I decided that I would like to meet him. Seeing my relentless enthusiasm, the artist couple tried to organise the meeting, which unfortunately never came to be due to the failing health of the old artist. Even though I was never able to meet him in person, my interest in his art never ceased to exist. I was always looking for his works, which became formative experiences of my life. Thus the oeuvre of Lajos Szalay became the starting point and a fixture of my plans and later work in the gallery.

The opening of the Jászi Gallery was to be held on 29 November 2008, a few months before the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lajos Szalay, planned that way so that our gallery could hold a celebratory exhibition in this year of jubilee. Preparations had already begun in the summer of 2008. We only had a handful of works available, most of which were only prints. But the unbending desire for the gallery to be able to celebrate the anniversary prevailed, and with the help of few lucky coincidences, the gallery was opened on 26 February 2009 – the very day Lajos Szalay was born – with the exhibition entitled The Poet of Lines that featured more than 60 of his works executed in Indian ink.

The first exhibition was followed by others: in 2010, his works dealing with biblical themes were showcased, and in 2013, he was featured in the exhibition Apocalypse along with works by Béla Kondor.

The current exhibition is focused on the period between 1948 and 1960 that Szalay spent in Argentina, a relatively unknown chapter of his life. Works from this period were published or exhibited only incidentally in Hungary. Additionally, neither of those presented them in a context that would reveal what Argentina meant for Szalay, and what Szalay meant for Argentina. Some of the works he produced during this time are concerned with the conditions of Hungary, amongst which the most notable are the ones that depict the events of the 1956 revolution. This exhibition aims to gain knowledge and inform the general public about this particular twelve years of an oeuvre that was exceptional in every stage.

Orsolya Jászi

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