Ancient art forms and wisdom traditions have become the source as well as the intent of Kende’s imagery.
The Kende family escaped from then Communist ruled Hungary in late 1956, granted refuge in the U.S. Ivan was ten years old. While enroute, the children were offered welcoming gifts. He chose a box with a picture of a truck on it, a pencil and a small notebook. Arriving in New York City, restless from the very long plane ride, heeding an unprecedented, out of the blue impulse, he drew that picture that afternoon. His first ever. He has been drawing ever since.
The pursuit of realistic painting and drawing in his early years evolved in the 1990’s into ethereal imagery that relied on precise texture formations, formal compositions and monochrome color themes. The figurative imagery hinted at mythic content.
Around 2005, in an absent minded, whimsical moment in the studio, he composed a rudimentary sculpture out of some leather scraps. He immediately realized how a leather construction technique he invented years earlier would enhance and totally integrate with the inherently elemental nature of thick, “Oak Tanned” leather. African tribal masks revealed to him the shapes and forms needed as the last ingredient to complete the system of sculpture he envisioned with this archaic material. The spiritual roots of the masks also ignited a sense of connection to the arts of ancient, and Non-Western cultures. His imagination was then open to the magical beauty of the Neolithic cave paintings of Lascaux and Altamira. Riveted by the coarse, tactile, visceral feel of their pigments on the rough cave surfaces inspired a final leap. His original, minimalist, ethereal, Acrylic paintings and textured Conté drawings transformed into large, allegorical, pastels on canvas. The gritty, coarse quality of the simple marks on canvas unified most of his previous, seemingly unrelated artistic directions with metaphysical inclinations, into a new theme in his image making. The indefinite marks left by the medium as it lightly touches the canvas is where the illusory nature of solid forms and rational mindsets flow in and out of the realm of the less than visible, the “Infinite Formless”, the “Nagual”.
Kende’s imagery invites the audience to imagine stepping into ancient, undiscovered grottoes. There, abstract and symbolic interpretations of the visible world, as grasped from the neolithic cave painters, are drawn with materials they had primitive versions of.
Select Solo Exhibits
2021 Flatlanders Gallery, Blissfield, MI
2017 Art on Madison, Lakewood, OH ( Cleveland )
2012 River House Arts, Toledo, OH
2011 Gallery 56, Memphis, TN
2010 Flatlanders Gallery, Blissfield, MI ( three person exhibit )
2009 Schedel Gallery & Arboretum, Toledo, OH
2006 The Tom James Gallery, Northville, MI
2005 Turkaly Gallery, Cleveland, OH
Chelsea Gallery, Chelsea, MI ( two person exhibit )
2003 Chelsea Gallery, Chelsea, MI
2002 Toledo Museum of Art, Westgate Gallery, Toledo, OH
2001 Chelsea Gallery, Chelsea, MI
Pierre Paul Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
1998 Yribar Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
Select Group Exhibits
2011 Flatlanders Gallery, Blissfield, MI
2010 Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH (“Art Inspires Art” Exhibition“)
River House Arts, Perrysburg, OH
2009 The French Art Colony, Gallipolis, OH
2008 Paoli House Gallery, Madison. WI
2007 Parkwood Gallery, Toledo, OH
Secor Gallery, Toledo, OH
2004 Turkaly Gallery, Cleveland, OH
2002 Toledo Museum of Art, TAA Exhibit, Toledo, OH
2000 Caelum Gallery, New York, N.Y. / Hiroshima, Japan
Pierre Paul Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI
1999 Clare Spitler Works of Art, Ann Arbor, MI
Gallery 212, Ann Arbor, MI
1998 Caelum Gallery, New York, N.Y.
1995 Jan Miller Gallery, St. Augustine, FL
1960 – 64 The Art Students’ League, New York, N.Y.