Another Forgotten Female Genius

Throughout her life, Ilka Gedő obsessively documented herself, whether through self-portraits, diary entries or the painstakingly recorded process of creating her expressionist paintings. I observe myself so that I don’t disappear. I am not invisible if I observe myself. The act of self-observation is part of my process. I observe myself therefore I am.

All of these were true of Gedő’s life and art, which entailed a kind of existential battle against erasure: as a woman; as a Jew; as a non-conformist, female, Jewish artist living in Hungary during the Communist era; as an artist whose sensibilities placed her outside of the dominant art movements of her day.

Gedő’s silence, when seen through the lens of self-observation, becomes less about raw bone survival and more about reaching for the eternal. Through portraits, the timeless thumbprint of our humanity; and through color, the transcendental poetry that has always existed beyond language… The story of Gedő’s late-life, short-lived success would be echoed across her generation, with so many other pioneering female (Jewish) artists being overlooked until the very end of their lives.

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