“I live my life on the border that separates dream and reality.” And it is this dream aspect of Dušan Kállay’s concepts which we admire in his illustrations and paintings. His dreams, no matter how connected with reality, exist outside this reality and cannot escape it. What seems to us to be a faithful depiction slips away into a mysterious world of unconventional relations and circumstances. This allows the artist to discover the diversity of the world in various forms: through the bizarre world of people, animals and things.
Dušan Kállay is an excellent illustrator and colorist whose illustrations and paintings are closely linked by the phenomenon of color. More than technological anticipations, they share the ability to transform a motif with magical suggestiveness and the belief that magic really exists. He sees the stories he brings to us through a lens of detachment, humor and gentle irony. Perhaps he drew some inspiration from Dadaists or Surrealists; in any case, he discovers hidden humanized legacies in dramatic situations and banter. He bases his work on the conviction that “the world is much wider than the world that we can see.” Thus, every book that he has illustrated (and which he presents here today) is an in-depth probe beyond boundaries, and not only the boundaries of the visible world. When examining Veselý koncert (Merry Concert) /1998/, Slovenské rozprávky (Slovak Fairy tales) (2012), Príbehy zo Shakespeara (Shakespeare’s Stories) (2006) or the more recent Príbehy Dona Quijota (Don Quixote’s Stories) (2017), every text provides an abundance of inspiration for adventurous, satirical, grotesque and humorous interpretations which in their own way convey the atmosphere of their literary originals. His drawing virtuosity is combined with his mastery of color. His painting ability burst into view in the paintings from the series entitled Anonymi z Pompejí (The Anonymous of Pompeii) (2011-17) through which he interprets the apocalyptic destruction of this ancient city of wealth and vanity as the essence of life’s origin and extinction.
Dušan Kállay is one of the great figures of the post-war development of Slovak and world book production. He was born in 1948 in Bratislava. From 1966 to 1972 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava under prof. Ján. Želibský and prof. Vincent Hložník. Since 1990, he has been a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and head of the Studio of Free Printmaking and Illustration. He creates prints, illustrations, paintings, postage stamps and ex libris.
He has illustrated almost one hundred of books, many of which had a foreign language edition. He cooperates with several foreign renowned publishing houses such as Ravensburger Buchverlag Ravensburg, Grimm Press Taipei, Shinchosha Company Tokyo, Fukuinkan Shoten Tokyo, and Albatros Prague. He has also conducted workshops and lectures in Vienna, Kolding, Trier, Katowice, Tokyo, Taipei and elsewhere.
He has won many awards, prizes and diplomas for his work, including the H. CH. Andersen Prize, Oslo (1988), the UNICEF Award Bologna (1992) and the Grand Prix at the WIPA Vienna (2009 and 2012 The Most Beautiful Book of the World ). Some of his more recent awards include the 2018 Special Award, the International Triennial of Graphic Art, Bitola, 2017 Cena poštovej banky (Postal Bank Prize) at BIB 2017, the 2017 Želimir Award at the 1st International Triennial of Graphic Art in LIVNO, 2015 Grand Prix, 150 years of Alice, the exhibition at the Grolier Club New York, the 2008 Grand Prix at the International Triennial of Small Graphic Forms in Lodz, and the 2008 Grand Prix International Biennial of Illustration in Zagreb...