MAY 7TH - 31ST


Arusha Gallery is delighted to present the work of celebrated artist, Ilona Szalay. Since completing her studies at Oxford University and Byam Shaw, University of the Arts, Ilona has shown her work at galleries and art fairs internationally. Ilona is the recipient of many art prizes and was selected as one of the fourteen worldwide artists to invest in, by Rebecca Wilson, head curator at Saatchi Art. 

A recipient of the ORA Prize (Italian contemporary art prize) and one of six finalists for the highly valued UK Threadneedle Prize in 2013, Ilona’s work has come to be widely recognised for its quality. She has exhibited worldwide including exhibitions in London, Milan and New York and the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. Ilona’s work has featured in many international publications including Wall Street International magazine, The Independent, The Times and Dazed and Confused magazine.

Ilona’s paintings trace a path through a world of conflict and power play, a place of rigid hierarchy and fierce competition. Using concise visual language the work explores notions of vulnerability and beauty, dominance and submission, violence and control. Illona seeks to investigate the tension between protection and control in her work 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. There is an intensely visceral quality to her recent paintings, a sense of abundance and illumination.

As part of this exhibition Ilona’s private ‘chronicles’ will be shown to the public for the first time.  These drawings and words are a narrative of her life from 2012, recording her private emotions as she moved to Italy with her family and the ensuing break down of her marriage, a visual diary of sorts. Incredibly raw and honest they are experienced like a dark fairytale (only suitable, when we came to look at them in her London flat, her beautiful daughters were engrossed in ‘Malificent’). It is the closest we will ever get to being inside of a head and heart belonging to an artist, a mother, a lover and a child, it is darkness bathed in beauty and it is as real as it gets.