Ilona Keserü at Stephen Friedman Gallery

Hungarian artist Ilona Keserü is currently showing a stunning solo exhibition in London at the Stephen Friedman Gallery. Although Keserü is one of Hungary’s leading post-war abstract artists, with a career spanning over seventy years, her work has rarely been seen outside of Eastern Europe and so this exhibition presents a special opportunity.

Keserü’s art expresses power and strength in the face of political and cultural adversity through vivid colours and bold shapes. She is considered a leading figure of the neo-avant-garde generation of artists that coalesced in the early 1960s and the paintings on display perfectly represent Keserü’s crystallized colour sensibility. In 1967, she discovered the rustic, heart shaped headstones of the cemetery at Balantonudvari that would become a central motif of her paintings for a long while to come. Although she was previously familiar with the place, she was so moved by the experience on one particular excursion that she immediately felt a powerful need to paint these shapes in great variety. Keserü incorporates these shapes, which she found on the beautifully weathered, crumbling bits of limestone, into her works, giving new life to something that signifies death.

Vibrant and beautiful colours drizzle down the white walls of the gallery in a variety of patterns and materials. ‘Space Taking Shape’ 1972, shows a hive of colours rolling down a canvas that has been shaped on a wooden frame. The frame curves in waves away from the wall, causing the paint to run towards viewers, giving the impression that a pot of liquid rainbow has fallen from the sky into the room.

Waves and drips are frequently used in Keresü’s art shown here, along with the hive formation seen in ‘Space taking Shape’ and ‘Panneau Design 3, which was created using oil paint straight onto wood. Waves and drips also appear in ‘Double Form 3’  ‘Television’ and ‘Bloody Approach’. ‘Bloody Approach’ consists of only four colours, and yet it is far from simple. Running down from the top of the canvas is a sizeable red spill, the colour seeping from it’s bloody puddle, dribbling down the canvas, leaving red trails of ‘blood’.

For this exhibition, Stephen Friedman has curated a stunning selection of works by Ilona Keserü and viewers in London are finally granted the opportunity to marvel at the glorious talent of this influential artist.  Bursting with vivid colours and optimism, the exhibition is s shining multi-faceted gem in the heart of London that will illuminate the senses and enchant all who visit.

Ilona Keserü is on show at Stephen Friedman Gallery until 21st April.  More information may be found here.