Ilona Keserü is born in Pécs on 29 November.


At the age of twelve, she begins studying under Ferenc Martyn, a member of the Parisian Abstraction-Création group and a major figure in Hungarian abstract painting. In the visual environment of abstract art, which she learns to speak almost as a mother tongue, her childhood master teaches her how to make drawn studies of nature based on precise observation, and how to explore the opportunities in the language of painting – lessons that will have an impact on her entire life and career.


She is a pupil at the Free School of Art in Pécs.


She continues her studies at the Grammar School of Visual and Applied Arts in Török Pál Street in Budapest.


She starts her studies at the painting faculty of the Hungarian College of Art, where her first teacher is László Bencze. From 1955 she studies fresco painting under István Szőnyi. For her thesis in 1958 she paints an al secco work in the Epreskert building of the college, titled Fugitives, and measuring 2.5m x 9m.


She travels to Poland and Prague and experiences life among relatively free art circles. Her return home marks the start of her first period of making pictures that are abstracted from reality.

November 1962 – November 1963

She spends a year in Italy, travelling to Rome on her own money, where she enrols in a free course at the Accademia di Belle Arti and obtains a three-month grant from the Italian state. The deep impressions made on her there – an awareness of how older periods of art build upon each other in layers, and direct experience of the overwhelming greatness of architecture and the wonders of contemporary art – will remain enduring influences on the rest of her career.


While continuing to paint, she also earns a living designing stage sets and costumes.


She thinks in several genres at the same time, which she adds to and supplements with varying intensity throughout her career. Her method of working consists of different forms of painting behaviour, and an alternation and cohabitation of her use of materials. In her studio she produces gesture paintings, canvases showing pure colour relationships, collages of objects, and pictures on embossed flax and hemp canvas.


She goes on a round trip of Lake Balaton: “I’m starting a series of pictures based on the already familiar heart-shaped tombstone forms of the cemetery in Balatonudvar.”


She is invited by Czechoslovakian colleagues to an international exhibition in Bratislava (Danuvius 1968, biennale internationale des jeunes artistes). Broadcasting on Radio Free Europe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports: “(…) the most powerful is the young Ilona Keserü, who appeared with her abstract works…” A West German TV crew films in her studio.


She spends two months in Cologne, Amsterdam, Paris and London: “I’ve decided that in Hungary I must do what I want.”


She builds the monumental embossed work titled Plastered Forms in the Sculpture Park in Villány.

from 1972

She explores the relations between the colours of the spectrum and the colours of human skin.

from 1981

She begins to examine how to capture, in painting, the “Afterimage”, the vision formed behind suddenly closed eyes, burning in brilliant colours of light. She experiments with how to depict “colours of light” using pigments.


Her first collective exhibition at a state venue is held in the Hall of Arts (Műcsarnok).

from 1983

She teaches drawing and painting at the Janus Pannonius University in Pécs. She paints very large pictures in her new studio in Pécs.

from 1991

She is a university professor, and a founder of the Pécs Academy of Art. In the 1990s, the Glimpse into Time art group reflects on the new and stormy historical events taking place in the artist’s immediate surroundings, and how they affect her personally: “I am driven by the obligation to face up to things.”


She is awarded a grant to work in Rome.


Approach, Tangle, Stream – An Investigation of Causes and Effects in Ilona Keserü Ilona’s Oeuvre at Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest


Titled Forest of Images, a collective exhibition of works made between 1982 and 2008 is held at the MODEM Arts Centre in Debrecen.


Solo show at Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava- Čunovo, SK


exhibition at Kisterem


Space of Colours – Cangiante, Vaszary Gallery, Balatonfüred

exhibition at Kisterem


Solo show, Celebrating Colour – A selection of Ilona Keserü Ilona’s oeuvre at Zsolnay Negyed – Pécsi Galéria m21, Pécs


Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York

solo show at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London


solo show, Filling Space with No Intentions at Kisterem, Budapest