In the series of charcoal and pastel drawings executed by Béla Gy. Szabó in the years 1931-1935, the peripheral districts of Cluj, with their inhabitants and their daily routines, spring to life. These early works of the artist’s, all but a few of which have until now remained unknown to the public, bring before us with unexpected honesty a problem that plagued Cluj in former days and is a fact of life even in ours: that of unemployment and poverty exacerbated by a severe economic crisis. In 1931, he was taken on at the Energy electrical machine factory in Cluj as a project engineer and lived for two years at 1, Calvin [Câmpeni] Street. The earliest known works of those done in Cluj immortalise the surroundings of his home: a view of the roofs of Calvin Street from his window in winter, homeless people around the station. His first solo show, between 29 April and 10 May 1934, was held together with Jenő Szervátiusz and Emil Vásárhelyi Ziegler in the Minerva Exhibition Hall in Cluj. Gy. Szabó exhibited a total of fifty-two works on social themes: the area around the Citadel and the banks of the River Someș, fishermen under the bridge, homeless people on the streets, drunkards and partygoers. In an interview given to György Bözödi in 1934, before his solo show, he talked expressively about this period: “I used to wander the streets, despondent and downcast, and was struck by the human figures, the majority of whom, like me, were trudging along hopelessly and in obvious poverty, their backs bowed with care. That was my Romantic period, when I dealt with social themes and drew in an Impressionist style.” The title we have given our exhibition references Béla Gy. Szabó’s Liber miserorum [The Book of the Poor], published by the Minerva Press in 1935, which can be considered as a kind of synthesis of this series with its social theme. He arranged the book in six chapters, thus giving his woodcuts a narrative thread. Between the introductory and closing chapters we find sections entitled Gaudium [Joy], Labor [Work], Quies [Rest] and Tristitia [Sadness]. In these woodcuts the scenes showing social themes that we know from the artist’s large drawings are simplified down to a few lines. While in some of his pastel and charcoal drawings he creates an unsettlingly murky atmosphere by using charcoal hatching, in his woodcuts this tension is achieved by fine line drawing, with the effect of the lines being outweighed by the dark background of the sparsely incised woodblock. The works showing life on the outskirts of Cluj have been grouped together in the exhibition halls corresponding to the six chapters of Liber miserorum. They give us an opportunity to become acquainted with the daily life of the poor and to observe their happiness, their struggle to survive, their welcome rest and their hopeless sadness. The individual graphic works and woodcuts consistently produced by the artist between 1931 and 1935 constitute one of the most extensive series in Transylvania and indeed in Romania devoted to social subjects.