Thought Forms. The Calligraphic Art of Lajos Szabó 1956 - 1967

István Cziegler (University of York), Nico Kos Earle and Balázs Szendrői (University of Oxford)
Event date
17 Jun 2022 to 28 Jun 2022
Event time
14:00 - 18:00
St Peter's College Chapel
New Inn Hall Street
Venue details

College Chapel

Event type
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required
Not required

Lajos Szabó (1902-1967) was a Hungarian left-wing thinker and existentialist philosopher, whose natural medium was dialogue.

Founder of the Budapest Dialogical School, with life-long colleague Béla Tábor, in 1936 they co-authored Indictment Against the Spirit. A radical critic of the dominant schools of thought of the time, Szabó declared himself “anti-organisation”, a position he retained throughout his life, whilst following progressive artistic and social movements. Surviving Auschwitz, Szabó played an important role in the European School art movement (1945 - 1948), and participated in intense discussions with his closest peers in "Thursday Conversations” and seminars, all disbanded with the strict implementation of the Zhdanov Doctrine.

Towards the end of his life, having left Hungary in 1956, he expressed his inner thoughts in the form of enigmatic drawings resembling calligraphies. Completed in a single line, in a vast number of variations and repetitions, some works can be read as a face, an exclamation mark, a cross, a diagonal, or initial L.

Others are harder to classify, and even harder to read. Szabó often signed his drawings with the letters AO, which we might trace to his philosophical position (anti-organisation) or to the letters in his name; they manifest as visual symbols in his work. A large body of his drawings survive in public and private collections.

The aim of this small exhibition is to introduce some of his works, ask what an individual gesture might say about a life, and initiate a broader debate about what makes someone an ”artist”.