Painter of Hungarian origin, Arpad Szenes was born in 1897 in Budapest, capital of Hungary. From 1918 he studied at the Academy of Budapest, where he presented a special interest in the practice of drawing and painting. Then sought to know and study the artistic avant-garde trends in the European context, addressing a broad spectrum, ranging from visual arts to music.
Later he traveled to several European countries, settling in Paris in 1925. He devoted himself to painting and drawing, producing a set of figurative works of surrealist influence, among which his “Autoportrait à la pupille rouge” held between 1924 and 1925. These paintings, the least known in the context of his work, have associated signs very colorful figures and often take an aggressive and ironic character.
In 1929 Arpad met the Portuguese painter Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (in height rooted in Paris where he studied painting at the Academie de la Grande-Chaumière) who marries the following year.
After the course the artist worked with Hayter, engraving master and, without abandoning painting executed several prints surrealist character.
Since their marriage, the painter often moved up to Portugal, where he participated in several group exhibitions. Then you know several Portuguese artists such as Carlos Botelho, with which develops lasting friendships.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the couple returned to Lisbon and tried unsuccessfully to get to Arpad Szenes (who had become stateless since the Nazis had him removed from his previous nationality because of his Jewish ancestry) nationality Portuguese. The following year the two artists took refuge in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they remain until 1947.
From the early ’50s, Arpad held its best-known works in elongated shape, embarking on one informalist root of abstraction, based on the use of peaceful but bright chromaticism, consisting of ocher and other soft and warm colors.
In 1956 he was awarded the French nationality and Vieira da Silva.
Arpad Szenes and Vieira da Silva lived and supported a whole generation of Portuguese artists, scholars of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, settled in Paris from the fifties. This was the case of Manuel Cargaleiro, Costa Pinheiro, Eduardo Luis and artists (Gonçalo Duarte, José Escada, Lourdes Castro, Rene Bértholo and João Vieira) who, at the end of the decade were the KWY Group, active in Paris until the beginning of the decade following. It was then that Arpad Szenes held his first solo exhibition. After the revolution of 1975 that ousted the dictatorship in Portugal, it has become more intense the relationship between the artists and the home country of Vieira da Silva.
Author of a serene and quiet work, Arpad Szenes usually found himself overwhelmed by the unconditional support provided to the work and career of his wife, who would get international recognition and projection from 1950. The artist died in Paris in 1985 and nine years later, a significant part of his work was gathered by Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation, established in Lisbon in 1994.