The retrospective exhibition Yolanda Mohalyi: A Grande Viagem comprises around 50 works, from drawing and watercolors to large dimensions abstract paintings, most of them belonging to private collections. The show marks the release of the homonymous book, written by historian Maria Alice Milliet, and the conclusion, 36 years after her death, of the commitment assumed by Mohalyi’s friends, Jurgen and Bárbara Bartzsch to preserve and promote her production.
Born in Transylvania, Hungry, Yolanda (1909, Hungry – 1978, Brazil) arrived in Brazil in 1931, to marry her compatriot Gabriel Mohalyi. Soon she became acquainted with artists and intellectuals that either came from or studied in Europe and were, as she, sensitive to the ideals of German expressionism, like Lasar Segall, whose studio she attended for a decade.
With the 1st Bienal de São Paulo (1951) and the internationalization of arts in the country, gained space in Brazil the clash between figuration, with its social themes so dear to moderns, and abstractionism, which proposed a rational and universal language. It was around this debate that Yolanda began to experiment with new techniques and to simplify forms – yet, without abandoning figuration. In 1957, after a trip to Italy, where she was overwhelmed by the frescos by Piero de La Francesca at the Basilica of San Francisco, she gave up figuration all together. After returning to Brazil, her work shifted towards informalism, mostly with gouache and Chinese ink on paper.
She participated in seven editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, and two of the Tokyo Biennial. Along artists like Manabu Mabe, Iberê Camargo and Tomie Ohtake, her large dimensions abstract paintings were increasingly accepted by the Brazilian art market. In 1976, she had her first major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo (MAM SP), and, in 1982 and 1984, two exhibitions at Dan Galeria. Recently, she had retrospectives at the MON (Curitiba, Brazil), in 2008, and at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, in 2009.