Variations on Legends | Exhibition of Gabriella Sulyok

Without exception, Gabriella Sulyok's works, embraced by music and poetry, allow us to grasp our life-moment. In her “sumptuous-beautiful” drawings, she captures our shared memories, and, by placing our wanderings in seemingly eternal time-spaces, she condenses them into a life experience that is available in the present along with the future.

She had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a now-forgotten culture. This experience, paired with her intellectual and artistic disposition, has enabled her to always observe, interpret, feel, and appreciate things from a variety of perspectives. Her view of the world, bolstered by sober insights, is conveyed in her works with the most straightforward attitude suited for transmission.

For her, the colors black and white are fundamental “because light obscures white and black equally,” – or because it reveals them in the same way. In her graphics, the rhythm of the encounter between black and white as well as the way they enhance each other’s beauty without loss are significant moments; this has allowed the distinctive atmosphere within the black-and-white range to fully manifest itself.

To transpose the experience of film and life into two dimensions with her ability to express herself through moving images (and music). To sometimes make a whole story both visible and imaginable. To use pencil, ink, or chalk to represent that which is at once mysterious and essential. At the same time, her knowledge of the filmmaking has also enabled her to make the stillness of the movement compelling in her drawings, so that the lines project before us a still image that can be set in motion again at any moment.

Her pictures transport us to Mesopotamia, to the world of Orpheus and Eurydice, to the never-ending maze of the foundations of Judeo-Christian culture preserved in the Bible, as well as our own world, the origin of the dimensions of the present and the past-future that we share with everything else.

The exhibition presents works from her early years as well as from recent months. The three rooms present drawings inspired by ancient Eastern and Greek mythology, made with black ink on white paper, spot etchings, and graphics resulting from her personal involvement in the study of the Bible of the Judeo-Christian world (Old and New Testaments), particularly the Book of Psalms. During her years in Iraq, she drew Sumerian, Babylonian-Akkadian, and Assyrian costumes based on the findings and assumptions of scholars. It was in this museum environment, influenced by the visual art of Mesopotamian culture and the poetry inextricably linked to it, that she began her series of ink drawings entitled To Sumerian Clay Tablets, each piece named after an excerpt from a Sumerian poem.

Her Orpheus series was created in the early 2000s, inspired by István Gaál's 1986 film Orpheus and Eurydice. There are no figures here either: neither Orpheus nor Eurydice are incarnate, yet their presence is palpable—we can see what they saw, or what they might have seen. Together, we might wander and grapple with the issues that the exhibitor calls beautiful.

Thanks to the spatial structure of the graphics, the orientation towards depth and height, including the often apparent “emptiness,” the atmosphere emerging evokes a state on the verge of astonishment and jubilation in the viewer. The same applies to the drawings that rework biblical stories, made with gestures that help to map-imagine the locations where they took place. The images capturing experiences and impressions are often inspired by the words of poets and writers, such as the interpretations of Thomas Mann or Rainer Maria Rilke.

Gabriella Sulyok’s works can also be interpreted as prayers: they are visionary images of almost conclusive power that open a door to timelessness.


Szilvia Reischl, curator of the exhibition



Virtual tour

Variations on Legends | Exhibition of Gabriella Sulyok

Legenda-változatok | Sulyok Gabriella kiállítása
2024. March 15. - May 26.

Kunsthalle, Budapest

2024. March 8. - April 7.
Previous exhibition

Gyermely Art Workshop 30 | 30 Years of the Széchényi Art Workshop Foundation (1994 - 2024)

2024. March 23. - May 12.
Next exhibition

Women’s Focus | Eve Arnold, Nanna Heitmann, Susan Meiselas, Inge Morath, Marilyn Silverstone