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 and received refuge in the U.S.A. Ivan was ten years old. While enroute, children were offered welcoming gifts. He chose a box with a picture on it, a pencil and a small notebook. Arriving in New York City, restless from the very long plane ride, he made a sketch that afternoon, heeding an unprecedented, out of the blue impulse. 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 textures, formal compositions and monochrome color themes. His figurative imagery hinted at mythic content.



Around 2005, in an ornery, absent minded moment in the studio, he composed a rudimentary sculpture out of some leather scraps. He quickly realized how a leather construction technique he invented years earlier would totally integrate with the inherently elemental nature of hard, “Oak Tanned” leather. From studying African tribal masks he grasped the shapes and forms needed as the last element to complete the system of sculpture he envisioned with this archaic material. Simultaneously, a new found sense of connection to the arts of ancient, Non-Western cultures was ignited by the masks’ relationships to spiritual realms. His imagination was then opened up 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 simple marks on canvas unified many of his previous, seemingly disparate artistic directions and metaphysical inclinations, into a new approach to his image making. The indefinite marks left by the medium as it lightly brushes against 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 beckons the audience to imagine stepping into ancient, undiscovered grottoes. Abstracted, symbolic interpretations of the visible world, as grasped from the neolithic cave painters, are depicted 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.