Faces of Lajos Sváby

Lajos Sváby was captivated quite early by myths and biblical locations – questions of „where we come from and why we are here”, in his own words “the mysteries of our origin, the mysteries of our belonging and our feelings”. He conceived the idea of drawing the Genesis in 1988 when he first experienced the Holy Land, the living Bible. The stories of the Genesis, of man’s fall into sin and that of Cain and Abel come to life on twenty-two pages drawn in red chalk.

Sváby, as so many of his fellow painters around the world, had been painting himself from early youth. At the beginning, his pictures were closer to studies, solidly crafted, realistic in form and colour. Over time, but still as a young artist, he would produce joyous, comic, occasionally grotesque self-portraits, some of them also featuring an object (a shako). These works, mostly oil paintings and watercolours, are contemplation as well as a courageous and proud facing up by a young artist.

In his later self-portraits, this courage to face life would mature into wisdom of life. Even though his light-hearted watercolours indicate that Sváby has embarked on the path of Expressionism, the probing eyes, the emphasis on looking out, the urge for an awareness show that he is on the way of philosophical self-analysis in his visual endeavours. As he starts creating his lively paintings evoking bacchanals, happy summers, marked by his characteristic “Sváby” atmosphere of colours, an orgy of paint ribbons, the more subdued melancholy of his self-portraits almost surprises. Also, he tends to increasingly use drawings for the purpose of scrutinising his own face, being and soul.

Sváby’s brilliant self-portraits, ranging from memo-like works to complete paintings, from sketches to independent pictures, are the free and extraordinarily personal self-confessions of a great master. The works of an artist, who created his œuvre by finding his own visual language, listening merely to his own instinct, and importantly, with a perfect professional competence, condensing all extravagance, wild joie de vivre and drama into them. His self-portraits are an important part of this œuvre, this series of works being best described by the French expression: l’autoportrait est l’artiste même, meaning the self-portrait is the artist himself.


Text: Mária Egri and István Sinkó


Curator: József Baksai

Assistant curator: Dóra Dekovics


Virtual tour

Faces of Lajos Sváby

Sváby Lajos arcai


2021. October 24. - November 21.


2021. October 22. - November 28.
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Ákos Matzon: Space seeker

2021. October 29. - November 28.
Next exhibition

Pet’R – Drawings, Pictures. Memorial exhibition of Péter Kovács