The Bible of Lajos Szalay

2017. január 27., péntek

It is a historical fact that the Reformation movement had an ambiguous attitude towards works of fine art as a form of expressing faith, and yet, an art exhibition of the works of Lajos Szalay will be a core component to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Debrecen.

The Kovács Gábor Art Foundation (KOGART), in conjunction with the Debrecen Reformed Theological University, is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in an ambitious series of exhibitions. There will be four exhibitions in total, with the first one dealing with the themes of Creation, Covenant, Grace, Temptation and Promise in the graphic works of Lajos Szalay. The exhibition opened on November 27, 2016 and will be shown in the MODEM in Debrecen until February 19, 2017.

Lajos Szalay (1909-1995) was a Kossuth award-winning Hungarian graphic artist who travelled widely beginning in 1946 and lived and worked for 40 years in Argentina and the United States. He eventually returned to Hungary in 1988. According to KOGART, “His art is recognised worldwide, and legend has it that Pablo Picasso said, ‘If two graphic artists survive for posterity, the other one will be me; if only one, it will be Lajos Szalay.’”

 Szalay cites his religious upbringing in Hungary as a large factor in his works, saying, “I was given a religious upbringing. Which is why my drawings draw on religious beliefs. I seek to express my restlessness and my search for something larger than man. My own concept is that man cannot exist without the strict and disciplined relationship with God.” His first works, dating from the early 1960’s, draw on experiences connected to both the Old and New Testaments.

In talking about the exhibition, Gusztáv Bölcskei says that commemorating the Reformation through Szalay’s art is not in conflict with the core values of the religious movement, but it is, “rather an illustration of the realization that in the wealth of God’s revelation there is worthy and natural room for whatever the fine arts are able to depict. The Scripture clearly states that men who devise artistic works have been filled with the Spirit of God (Exodus 31:3). The fact that faith comes by hearing does not mean that seeing, i.e., man’s ability to perceive things visually, cannot enable us to grasp some of the world beyond words.”

The pieces selected for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation exhibit were specially selected and represent a comprehensive collection of the work of Lajos Szalay. Included in it are primarily drawings, but also paintings and copper drypoint prints, which are inspired by stories in the Old and New Testaments.

The exhibition is jointly organized by KOGART and the Debrecen Reformed Theological University, with support from the Ministry of Human Resources. Richárd Kosinsky, an art historian at the Kovács Gábor Art Foundation, is the curator. Following the Reformation exhibition in Debrecen there will be two other shows in the Hungarian country and a closing show in Budapest that will serve as a summary and culmination of the previous three exhibitions.


Article by Kearstin Bailey via promotional materials from the MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts

Contact us

Click here if you are interested in twinning.


Reformed Church in Hungary

Address: H-1146 Budapest, Abonyi utca 21.   

PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

Phone/Fax: + 36 1 460 0708 


Our church through American eyes

We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.