The selection from the Hungarian National Bank’s collection focuses on a characteristic method of contemporary painting, colour abstraction. For the exhibition, we have chosen from the colour-analytical positions of gestural, tachist and constructive abstract painting. With the exhibition’s title, we allude to the master class of Ilona Keserü The Power of Colours.

The course, held regularly at the Faculty of Art of the University of Pécs during the summer, focused on the colour-analytical endeavours of painting and provided a unique opportunity for young painters to master the world of colour. It also inspired a shift in scale, leading to a reassessment of the participants’ respective painting practices. The course did not concentrate on presenting the secrets of the painterly trade but gave young painters the freedom to develop without conceptual constraints. This exploration could be about how the painter grapples with the challenge of the canvas and the flat surface at a given moment, how layers of emotion and content are evoked through the application of colour, and how colour introduces dynamics into the surface. 

Ilona Keserü (or Ilona Keserü Ilona, as she has been using her name for some time) is among the most important painters of our time. Her palette is unmistakable. She is a supreme interpreter of the abstraction of colour, representing a unique path in her painting. The result of her nature-oriented and scientific explorations reveals an inexhaustible repository of painterly qualities. The universe of colours unfolding on her paintings gives rise to an ever-reviving compositional order. Her exploration of colour is not an investigation conducted according to the laws of physics, but a unique form of artistic research, crowned in the late 1970s by her personal realisation that: „All the shades of the rainbow harmonise with all the shades of human skin.” Of the artists in the exhibition, András Ernszt and Péter Somody attended Keserü’s courses, and their acquisition of this colour-analytical approach aided the development of their painting practice significantly. 

In the exhibition, we can experience the results of what it means to apply colour with large, sweeping gestures and incorporate the factural qualities of the material into the composition – for example, in the works of István Nádler – and what happens when the artist arranges two colours in such a geometric order that the form leaves the pictorial plane in an optical sense and creates a three-dimensional effect, as in the work of Ádám Szentpétery. The various directions stemming from the specific use of colour become apparent in even such a small selection. Colours also have their own history. In the latest tendencies of painting, digital colours are gaining ground, for which the knowledge and application of the paints and processes deployed by new technologies become essential, as with the work of Bea Kusovszky and Dia Pintér. Due to the reflexive quality of painting, the effect of colour codes and pixel values become an inescapable element of articulating a modern visual language. 

Exhibiting artists: András Ernszt, Ilona Keserü Ilona, Bea Kusovszky, István Nádler, Dia Pintér, Péter Somody, Ádám Szentpétery