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Mihai Olos

Mihai Olos (/olos/ born 26 February 1940 in Ariniș, Romania – died 22 February 2015 in Amoltern, Endigen, Germany). Romanian conceptual artist, poet, essayist. A gifted colorist in his first paintings, he became more attracted towards experimenting with various forms and materials. Familiar with the rural wood culture, he intended to follow in the footsteps of Constantin Brâncuşi, combining the spirit of the local folk culture with the trends of modern and contemporary art. Intending to take further the great sculptor's experience, Olos transformed the spindle-head – a miniature of the nail-less junctions in the architecture of the wooden churches of Maramureş – into a constructive module for the project of a universal city he called “Olospolis” that he theorized and represented in different forms and materials. While living and working in Baia Mare – an art center famous for its school of painting – he became first known due to paintings labeled as constructivist and his happenings, being classified among the neo-avangard Romanian artists during the seventies. Even though his first solo show in Rome (1969) had been a success, one of his silver medaled sculptures was included in the Fuji Museum collection in Tokyo, and his wooden sculptures were appreciated by the American artist and Brâncuşi scholar Athena Tacha Spear, his real recognition abroad begun with Joseph Beuys' remarking that he was a 'genuine artist' (“Endlich, ein Künstler!”) when Olos presented his concept of the Universal City and drew his module on a blackboard at one of the Free University seminars in Kassel, in 1977. Consequently, Beuys included the blackboard with the drawing in his “Das Kapital” shown in the main pavilion of the 1980 Venice Biennial. Olos' six month teaching at the “Justus Liebig” University in Giessen, his successful performances, solo shows in Wickstadt and Giessen and later on in the Netherlands, made him realize that his work and ideas could have a better audience abroad. Thus, also due to the political turmoil in Romania after 1989, the artist moved his residence in the south-west of Germany, continuing to exhibit in his native and neighboring countries. In the last decade of his life, finally recognizing his importance as an international artist, he was honored in his country of birth with a diploma, an anniversary show in Baia Mare and another one in the Brukenthal Contemporary Art Museum from Sibiu. In the autumn following his death, the curators of the Timişoara 2015 International Art Encounters exhibition showed his work in a special gallery. But only the posthumous extensive exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest (May 2016 - October 2017, curator Călin Dan) offered an insight into the variety, extent, and quality of his work, setting the basis of the future development of his generous, inclusive constructive concept of the Universal City. Reticent to sell during his lifetime, there are still few state (among these about 30 in the Baia Mare Art Museum) and private collections owning his work, the greatest number being still in the possession of the estate curated by Plan B Gallery. The latest art fairs – in Madrid, Armory Show in New York, ArtBasel in Switzerland and ArtBasel in Hong Kong – have shown an increase in museums' and collectors' interest in his work, and the 2018 autumn show in Brâncuşi's workshop at the Pompidou Center in Paris will mark the real acknowledgment of the importance of his work.

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Mihai Olos Artworks
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