My life, my fate, my work

Sándor Illés (Alsóvadász, 1928 – ) Autobiography

I was born into a well-to-do peasant family, which became my ruin. During the most critical stage of my self-discovery, after another lost war, the Bolshevik dictatorship forced upon us stole my youth, destroyed my parents and relatives, and annihilated that thousand-year-old source of strength that had upheld the nation and from which I am descended: the Hungarian peasantry. Through class warfare, the dictatorship smashed provincial Hungary and eliminated her national identity.

Every university and college turned me away; my future became hopeless. From the beginning I lived my entire life carrying this spiritual burden. I acquired the basics of ceramic preparation during my employment in the studio of the ceramist István Erdődi, and learned my sculpting knowledge as a student of the sculptor Ferenc Laborcz at the Dési-Huber.

During the more relaxed period of socialism, I was admitted to and became a member of the Art Fund in 1962, and with this my vocation also became my line of work. This provided me with the opportunity to start a family and to earn a respectable living.

My first successful professional exhibition was at the Kunsthalle’s 2nd National Ceramics Biennial. Later on I had independent exhibitions in Budapest’s smaller galleries and in the countryside, in the city galleries of Miskolc and Szolnok. I also staged a solo exhibition in the Danube Palace’s exhibition hall thirty years ago.

As a result of the adversity and tragic experiences of my youth, I developed my unusual and very unique methods of creating the figures through which I represent and vocalise national and social politics, as well as system-critical thoughts in unfamiliar ways. I know that these could not and even today cannot expect to receive universal praise on the part of the visitors.

I would like to keep my oeuvre exhibition together as it was exhibited in the Danube Palace in 2015 and is now viewable online, as part of a permanent exhibition to be exhibited by public collections, cultural institutions, or perhaps even as a private collection investment following mutual compliance discussions.


Sándor Illés