Ilka Gedö was a Hungarian woman artist whose career was stunted by the political disasters of the twentieth century. Only after her death did her work become internationally recognized. In her teens, prior to the German occupation of Budapest, she attended a private art school. At age 23, she was forced to live in a “yellow star house”, where she drew portraits of her fellow victims. After the war, during the Communist regime, she depicted workers in a factory. Her pastels of shadowy workers in a mysterious light, bent over tables or sinks, dotted with flecks of gold, did not impress the official comrades. More and more her drawing style developed into a search for her subject, which she encircled with nervously vibrating lines, reminiscent of Giacometti (whose work she discovered only later).
The present self-portrait shows a woman marked by her internment. Unlike her drawings from the Ghetto, which are more reminiscent of Steinlen or Vuillard, the present portrait leads stylistically to Gedö’s later work, when lines became autonomous fields of energy.
Look close at the lines. Stubborn and hypnotic.