After fleeing from communist ruled Hungary, the Kende family landed in the U.S, in late 1956. Ten years old, restless, Ivan Kende made a sketch in a small notebook he received enroute as a gift. He has been drawing ever since.
He studied figure drawing through his teen years at The Art Students’ League in N.Y.C.. He practiced figurative painting with oils in his twenties and thirties and taught himself several forms of leather craft. In the 1990’s, he painted formal compositions of ethereal subjects using a precisely textured Acrylic painting technique and an extensive drawing series with Conté pastels on linen textured papers.
Around 2004, a moment of absentminded musing with leather scraps prompted a sculpture series. A leather construction technique he invented in the early years, merged with the inherently primeval nature of the material. That this system could create artforms to express primordial forces was made clear by African tribal masks.
The magical beauty of the Neolithic paintings in the Lascaux and Altamira caves inspired the last step to totally embracing a more primitive style in his imagery. The final ingridient was the coarse, tactile feel of their pigments on the rough surfaces. His original, delicate, Conté drawings on paper, transformed into large, gritty, pastel drawings on canvas.
Since then, archaic themes, ancient art forms and wisdom traditions have become the source as well as the intent of his imagery.