Ilona Szalay Artist

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Ilona Szalay's paintings trace a path through a world of conflict and power play, a place of rigid hierarchy and fierce competition. Using a spare, concise visual language the work explores notions of vulnerability and beauty, dominance and submission, violence and control. The work seeks to investigate the tension between protection and control and as a result there is an ambivalence in the images, a questioning of motive/morality, and an examination into our impulses to both create and destroy.

The pictures are permeated with a lonely sense of yearning and a poignant straining towards something infinite. The secrecy (or secret) itself becomes a subject, and a modus operandi,  an inner core to be protected, watchfully, from a hovering menace which resides, perpetually, just outside the frame.
The status quo is maintained through these crude power relationships - subjugation of some, suppression of much - and there is depicted a rough kind of containing engendered by an endless repetition of clumsy compromise.

In her video work she uses stop motion animation to create free-wheeling narratives of oil paint on glass. These 'moving paintings' exist only in recorded form as each drawing is extinguished to allow room for the next, as such the work is ephemeral and spontaneous, the images dissolving into each other and sliding across the surface of the glass. The pictures tell of metamorphosis, desire, dreams and death.

There is an intensely visceral quality to the recent paintings, a sense of abundance, of gorging, stuffing or flooding, and a sense that something is being simultaneously illuminated and obliterated on the surface of the painting. This sweeping away is combined with tight pockets of controlled activity. These knotted, or knitted, places tell of beings grappling with one another in ways both hostile and benign.


Ilona Szalay was born in Beirut and is now based in London. She studied at Oxford University and Byam Shaw, University of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited at numerous London galleries including the Royal Academy, Rebecca Hossack, Transition, Standpoint and Whitfield Fine Art.

In 2013 she won the Italian contemporary art prize ORA. Her work was also selected as one of six finalists for the prestigious Threadneedle Prize one of the most valuable contemporary art prizes in the UK as well as being chosen for the Barbican Arts Open Exhibition. Last year also saw her exhibit new paintings in two solo shows one in London at Rebecca Hossack Gallery 'Owl, Boy, Gun' and one in Bergamo at Galleria Marelia 'Octopus'.

Her work will be exhibited at Art 14 in London this February.


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