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Szabó Ottó


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The exhibition of Ottó Szabó in Lučenec

written by Ágnes Kovács
translated by Zoltán Bartko 2015-11-22


The exhibition of Ottó Szabó in Lučenec



Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!


It is very difficult to be terse when summarizing Ottó Szabó′s fruitful career. He is not the kind of artist, who stopped development at his works created at the College of Fine Arts or repeated the same dull thing for ages. He has the IDEA. He has never had an authors′ crisis, he has never burned out and he has never felt void. He has always had goals and plans; he keeps on painting even in his thoughts. There was even a period, when he painted only in his thoughts, until the PICTURE assembled in his mind. And then he put it on the canvas.


He was about 5, when he saw a TV-series on Leonardo′s life. This film impressed him deeply. There were loads of various magazines at his grandfather′s house, which he loved to read - for the comics inside.  It was mainly the comics of Ernő Zórád and Pál Korcsmáros, which stunned him – perhaps it was the influence of Zórád that led him to be a fan of this art. Being a primary school pupil, he coloured one of these comics carefully, glued the details in a separate workbook, cut it into frames, at times he even completed the images or added his own scenes to the story. 


Five years after he graduated from secondary school, he was - at his third attempt - admitted to the University of Fine Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia. During the entrance exams, Ján Kulich, the communist rector stopped by students, and, while gazing at his works, noted: “Not bad at all!” Then came the cardinal question: “Are you a working class person?” – “Yes.”

All of this happened back in 1987, during the last days of the old regime. At the university, Igor Rumanský became his master and later a friend, too. When he graduated, Rumanský told Ottó Szabó that he was the only one admitted regularly during the times, while he taught there. 


During his university studies, Ottó studied graphic art, but also had courses of sculpting, modelling, carving wood and chiselling stone. He studied sculpting for four terms, thus gained the skills to create the relief of the Martyrs of Košice, Slovakia, situated on the facade of the Premontré monastery building, the statue of Sára Salkaházi in the St. Elizabeth Cathedral in Košice, the statues of Mary in the catholic church of Rešica, Slovakia or the memorial of László "Doky" Tóth at the cemetery of Drienovec, Slovakia. 


The church is one of his more frequent clients, too. In these works, he makes great use of his drawing talent - the one his professors at the university wanted to get rid of so often. It is the old style, which brings him new jobs in churches, because he really can make frescoes, stuccoes and mosaics.  The renowned architect from Košice, Michal Baník commissioned him with the altar image of the church in Chlmec, Slovakia - right after he graduated from the university. It was a glass painting. The architect loved it so much that he commissioned him also with painting the via crucis in the church of Budulov, Slovakia, just being erected at the time. Before he started that, Marián Ravasz, an architect from Dunajská Streda , Slovakia commissioned him with works of the stations of the cross at the church in Orechová Potôň, Slovakia. Based on the paintings of Jesus′ sufferings came the idea to publish these as a book. The book emerged as a publication of the Méry Ratio publishing house, with the preface by Marcell Jankovics, the well-known art historian. After this came the via crucis in Budulov, which drew the attention of Bertalan Gábor, the dean of Moldava nad Bodvou, Slovakia. He requested him to prepare the first Via Lucis - path of light - in the country. This is now visible around the church itself. This job brought further ones. It was the via crucis of the church in Moldava nad Bodvou, then a large painting of king St. Ladislaus, then the design and refurbishment of the sacristy and the sanctuary, the altar, the throne, the sedes and the ambo, as well as the devotional objects, the chandeliers and the procession cross. His newest work is the painting of blessed Sára Salkaházi in the church of Moldava nad Bodvou.


After all of this, I believe, it is not an overstatement to say that Ottó Szabó is the court painter of the Lord, since he is one of the most often commissioned artists, as far as sacred subjects are concerned. 

In addition to the stations of the cross in Orechová Potôň, Budulov and Moldava nad Bodvou, while it is now the third year that the believers may pray at the via crucis in Rešica, too - all furnishings of the latter building (including the organ) and the interior was made according to his design, thus the church is a compact work of art. 

Currently, he is working on the design of the full interior of the church in Vinica, Slovakia, another great challenge: he was commissioned to paint a fresco there. 


Let me now briefly mention the awards and prizes he was awarded during his career.  

In the fall of 2004 he was awarded the award of excellence of the Ethnic Hungarian Artists′ Association of Slovakia. 

In 2010, he was awarded the Pro Cultura Hungarica award. 

In 2014, he received a high state honour, too:  as an appreciation of the outstanding artistic career contributing to the culture of the Hungarian nation, he was awarded the Knight of Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary by János Áder, President of Hungary.


The name of Ottó Szabó became one with the NGO "Rovás" established and led by him. Rovás deals with contemporary art initiatives, film, photography, intermedia activities, computer-aided and applied graphics; organizes exhibitions, international, national and regional workshops, various courses; supports young talents, educates classic fine art technology, organizes industrial design, craft and cultural workshops and camps. He has been maintaining Rovás Academy for the fifth year in Košice, in the former St. Ladislaus street, now Kmeť street. 

In 2004, he co-initiated the birth and operation of the first Slovakian trilingual art portal, Rovart (, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014..

In 2012, he established the International Creative Community of Rovás - the eNRA.


In 2014, Rovás, the organisation, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, was awarded the plaque of the Košice County Administration.

In 2015 Rovás received the Special prize for the Regions of the Hungarian Quality Product Award. 


Dear Oti, 

allow me and our friends to wish you undiminished élan and a lot of well-paid work. 

Hereby I declare this exhibition opened. 

Thank you for your attention.



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