István Zsakó was born in 1954 in Budapest, Hungary. He studied at the Hungarian School of Fine Arts, Budapest (1968-1972) and sculpture at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest (1979-1984). In 1987 he won the Scholarship of Rome, receiving the chance to travel in Italy and take inspiration from countless ancient statues and sarcophagi. Working with abstracted figures, István Zsakó forms have a distinct playfulness such as that of Bird (1985), described by Lajos Lóska as a "small statue of a flat-headed, large-legged winged being with spherical eyes . . . simultaneously determined by the grotesque sincere charm of children’s dough figures and the transcendental mysteriousness of prehistoric creators" (1998). Many of Zsakó's works, however, take the form of soldiers, bearing tiny swords or bows and arrows, and he admits that this is a result of growing up in a Europe that "has never had a break of fifty peaceful years" (1998). Working mainly in bronze, sometimes in stone, he has also experimented with beeswax figures. The influence of other Hungarian sculptors who have also worked with prehistoric forms, such as József Jakovits, Géza Samu, György Chesslay and Attila Mata, is apparent. Lajos Lóska has described his pieces as "modern-time idols, enigmatic, mysterious, sometimes playful variations on our subconscious ego, of sexuality, love, masculinity and femininity" (1998). Zsakó curated Hungarian Prints (1996) for the Hamilton Artists Gallery, taught mould making at the Burlington Art Centre, and has received numerous awards, including the Hungarian Art Council Award (1985) and the Biennial Prize at the 8th Hungarian Drawing Biennial in Salgotarjan, Hungary (1996).

Solo Exhibitions:

1984 Pesterzsebeti Museum, Budapest
1985 Helikon Gallery, Budapest
1989 Stappman Gallery, Munich
1990 Spectator Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario
1994 Hammer Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario
1995 Broadway Cinema Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario
1997 Gallery Duba, Budapest
1997 Gallery Erdesz, Szentendre, Hungary
1999 Gallery on the Bay, Hamilton, Ontario
1999 Gallery Duna, Budapest
2000 Pelican Gallery, SzFehervar, Hungary
2003 Galerie Espace, Paris
2003 Gallery Erdesz, Szentendre, Hungary
2003 Carnegie Gallery, Dundas, ON

Group Exhibitions:

1985 Studio '85, Ernst Museum, Budapest
1985 40 Creative Years, Mucsarnok, Budapest
1985 Festival of Youth, Moscow
1986 Studio '86, National Gallery of Hungary, Budapest
1986 Workshop Exhibition, International Sculptor Colony, Villany, Hungary
1986 Derkovits Scholarship Winners, Mucsarnok, Budapest
1986 Stockholm Art Fair, Stockholm
1986 Contemporary Hungarian Sculpture, John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto
1987 Contemporary Hungarian Visual Art, Mucsarnok, Budapest
1987 Contemporary Hungarian Visual Art, Galerie der Kunstler, Munich
1987 Italian-Hungarian Art Exhibition, Palazzo Falconieri, Rome
1997 Galerie Der Kunstler, Munich
1989 4th International Exhibition of Miniature Art, Del Bello Gallery, Toronto
1989-2000 Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Toronto
1989 21st Arts Hamilton, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
1990 5th International Exhibition of Miniature Art, Del Bello Gallery, Toronto
1992 Workshop Exhibition, Art Gallery of Nyiregyhaza, Nyiregyhaza, Hungary 1990
1993 Washington Square Outdoors Art Exhibit, New York
1994 Derkovits Scholarship Winners 1955-1993, Szombathelyi, Keptar, Szombathely, Hungary
1994 21st Arts Hamilton, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
1994-95 Annual Juried Art Show, Burlington Art Centre, Burlington, Ontario
1995 The Bronze Triangle, Galerie Slovackeho, Kremnica, Slovakia
1995 Noah's Ark, Vigado Gallery, Budapest
1995 Members Show, Hamilton Artists Inc., Hamilton, Ontario
1995 Defining the Site, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
1996 Homage to Tamas Vigh, Vigado Gallery, Budapest
1996 8th Hungarian Drawing Biennial, Salgotarjan, Hungary
1997 National Small Sculpture Biennial, Pecs, Hungary
1997 Cologne Art Fair with Gallery Erdesz, Cologne, Germany
1997 National Fall Art Exhibition, Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary
1998 Cologne Art Fair with Gallery Erdesz, Cologne, Germany
1998 9th Hungarian Drawing Biennial, Salgotarjan, Hungary
1998 Garden of Delights, an exhibition of the Hungarian Sculptors Society, Budapest
2000 Cologne Art Fair with Gallery Erdesz, Cologne, Germany
2000 Praxis Gallery, Toronto
2001 Duologues, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto
2002 Fall Exhibit,Trinity Galleries, St.John, NB
2003 27th International Art Fair with Gallery Erdesz, Gent, Belgium
2003 Spring Festival, Gallery Gaal, Budapest

Public Collections:

Hungarian National Gallery
Hungarian Ministry of Culture
Hermann Otto Museum, Miskolc, Hungary
Janus Pannonius Museum, Pecs, Hungary
Siklos Museum of Art, Hungary
Museum of Art, Nyiregyhaza, Hungary
Museum of Art, Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary
Nograd Museum of Art, Salgotarjan, Hungary
Irving Zucker bequest, Hamilton, Ontario

Prizes:

1984 Prize of Lipot Herman Foundation, Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts
1985 First Prize, Festival of Youth, Moscow
1985 Hungarian Art Council Award, Studio '85 Exhibition
1986 Quality Award, International Sculptor Colony of Villany, Hungary
1989 Honourable Mention, 4th International Exhibition of Miniature Art, Toronto
1994 Second Prize, Annual Juried Art Show, Burlington Art Centre, Burlington, Ontario
1996 Biennial Prize, 8th Hungarian Drawing Biennial, Salgotarjan, Hungary
2000 Best Metal Award, Toronto Outdoor Exhibition
2003 Creation Program Grant, New Brunswick Arts Board

Scholarships:

1985 Derkovits Scholarship
1985 International Sculptor Colony Villany, Hungary
1987 Hungarian State Scholarship to Rome
1992 Art Center of Nyiregyhaza, Hungary
1997 The Banff Centre for the Arts

References:

Fitz, Péter: Contemporary Hungarian Art Lexicon. Budapest, Enciklopédia Kiadó, 2000, Volume 3, p. 965.
Leon, Pierre. "De l'utilité de l'abstraction derrière le rideau de fer . . ." L'Express de Toronto (May 1986): n.p.
Lóska, Lajos. "Bronze idols: In Zsakó's workshop." Tartalom (January/February 1998): 53.
Vigh, Tamas: Művészet (Art Today). October 1985
Latohatar. November 1985
Leon, Pierre: L'Express De Toronto. May 1986
Szabo, Erno P: "István Zsakó" Művészet (Art Today). July 1986
Benedetti, Paul: The Hamilton Spectator. October 1990
Manson, Ann Marie: Art Beat. Hamilton 1992
Mahoney, Jeff: The Hamilton Spectator. October 1995
Szemethy, Imre: Mozgo Vilag. December 1997
Suzuki, David: CBC TV, Nature of Things, Phallacies. 1999

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