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Lajos Szalay - Koloman Sokol - Pablo Picasso | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic


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Lajos Szalay - Koloman Sokol - Pablo Picasso

Pálffy Palace (show Contact)
22. 1. 2016 - 13. 3. 2016
Curators: Lilla Szabó, Noémi Szabó, Ivan Jančár

     In 2005, I prepared Koloman Sokol´s retrospective at the National Gallery in Budapest. I cooperated with art theorist Lilla Szabó who three years ago introduced me to the oeuvre of  Hungarian artist Lajos Szalay. It is really strange how many connections one can find between two artists who had probably never met and who never heard of one another. They captured the pulse of their time, sensitively responding to the current social situation and sympathising with the oppressed and the poor. They were superb draftsmen with the qualities of Renaissance masters and excellent figurative painters as well. The themes they depicted were very similar too: family, female nudes, horses, bulls, erotic motifs, interpersonal relationships, painter and a model, woman and the Minotaur, etc. Both of them moved through an art history inspired mostly by antiquity. Seeking the paragon of beauty, they combined physical beauty with a cerebral one. They were both interested in biblical subjects from the Old and  New Testaments. And it is hardly an accident that they both depicted motifs from Don Quixote such as  symbols of fighting windmills. In a way, they influenced several generations of artists and their work exceeded the borders of their native lands. Koloman Sokol emigrated to the United States in 1948 and never returned to Slovakia; Lajos Szalay left for Argentina and in 1988, he and his wife returned to Hungary. In 2002, the Centre of Koloman Sokol opened in Liptovský Mikuláš as a result of a generous gift from the artist; the Kovács Gábor Art Foundation (KOGART) in Budapest built an extraordinary collection of about 500 works by Lajos Szalay. The Foundation director, Péter Fertőszögi, responded very positively to the idea of a joint project.   

     There are also many links between Koloman Sokol and Lajos Szalay and the artistic giant of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso. Lilla Szabó suggested to me an exhibition presenting works of the three artists. The works of Sokol and Szalay reveal no influence of Cubism; rather it was the critical issues of life and death and estrangement and love which the artists had in common. The idea to mount a joint exhibition of the three was very tempting. (Lajos Szalay had a joint exhibition with Picasso and Koloman Sokol was reputedly the only Slovak artist familiar to Picasso.) We are using this opportunity to point out the fact that extraordinary artists may also appear beyond the common major art centres as shown by the examples of Koloman Sokol and Lajos Szalay.


                                                                                                                      Ivan Jančár


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