Mihai Olos (1940–2015, born in Arinis, RO, died in Endingen-Amoltern, DE) was a conceptual artist who worked in almost every available medium, including poetry and performance, alongside the sculpture and painting for which he became internationally recognised. Blain|Southern represents the Estate within the UK.

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BIOGRAPHY

Olos’ work was present at every major juncture of late Modernism. He rose to prominence with paintings that were labelled as Constructivist and his happenings were an integral part of the Neo-avant-garde movement in Romania during the seventies. A defining feature of Olos’ work is his consistent reference to the folk history of Maramures, his native region in Romania.

He worked often with traditional wood and employed medieval carving techniques. Recurring motifs include a knot of six self-supporting elements that was often found in the homes of Romanian peasants. Jumping off from early mystic Constructivism, the infinite combinations and self-supporting elements of the knot were representative of Olos’ utopian, philosophical strategy that he believed could unite East and West.

As part of the same spiritually-based philosophy, Olos appropriated the spindle headed form of the spires on traditional wooden churches in his native region. With these carved wooden sculptures, Olos took Brancusi’s earlier amalgam of traditional and contemporary art into a conceptual realm where he imagined an alternative space and way of living that utilised these constructions in various contexts. This was entirely radical at this time and place, and for decades Olos was under close scrutiny by the Securitate of The Socialist Republic of Romania.

His internationalist outlook and disruptive happenings also brought him worldwide attention and praise. He had his first solo show in Rome in 1969 and he presented his concept of the 'Universal City' at Joseph Beuys' Free International University (FIU), Documenta 6 (1977). Beuys became an outspoken admirer of Olos’ work and went on to include the board with the Mihai Olos’ presentation of the 'Universal City' in his environment work Das Kapital Raum 1970 – 77 exhibited in the main pavilion of the 1980 Venice Biennial and is now part of the Erich Marx collection exhibited at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

Selected exhibitions include: Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR (2018); The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, RO (2016); Galerie Plan B, Berlin, DE (2016); National Museum Bruckenthal, Sibiu, RO (2010); Galeriile de Artǎ, Baia Mare, RO (2000); Tragor Ignác Múzeum, Görög Templom, Vác, HU (1993); Nijmeegs Museum Commanderie van Sint-Jan, Nijmegen, NL (1989); Burgmannenhaus (Oberhessisches Museum), Gießen, DE (1980); Maramures Museum, Sighetu Marmaţiei, RO (1976); Galleria La Feluca, Roma, IT (1969); Galeria Simeza, Bucureşti, RO (1968).

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CV

Mihai Olos

1940 Born in Arinis, RO
2015 Died in Endingen-Amoltern, DE

Lived and worked in Romania and Germany

AWARDS

2012
Diploma of Excellence for the entire activity in the service of arts, awarded by the Union of the Plastic Artists from Romania, RO

2010
Grand Prize of the Baia Mare subsidiary of the Union of the Plastic Artists from Romania, RO

1985
Silver Medal, Fuji Museum, Tokyo, JP
First Award, Ceramics Symposium, Baia Mare, RO

1984
Flacara Award, RO

1970
Youth Prize of the Union of the Plastic Artists from Romania, RO

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2018
Mihai Olos, Une saison roumaine, Centre Pompidou - Atelier Brancusi, Paris, FR

2016
The Ephemerist. A Mihai Olos Retrospective, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, RO
Olospolis, Galerie Plan B, Berlin, DE

2010
Mihai Olos, National Museum Brukenthal, Sibiu, RO

2000
Mihai Olos, Galeriile de Artǎ, Baia Mare, RO

1993
Mihai Olos, Tragor Ignác Múzeum, Görög Templom, Vác, HU

1989
Mihai Olos, Nijmeegs Museum Commanderie van Sint-Jan, NL

1988
Mihai Olos, Galeriile de Artǎ, Baia Mare, RO

1983
Matraguna, Romanian Literature Museum, Bucharest, RO

1980
Mihai Olos, Burgmannenhaus, Oberhessisches Museum, Gießen, DE

1976
Mihai Olos, Maramures Museum, Sighetu Marmaţiei, RO

1969
Mihai Olos, Galleria La Feluca, Rome, IT

1968
Mihai Olos, Galeria Simeza, Bucharest, RO

1967
Mihai Olos, Galeriile de Artǎ, Baia Mare, RO

1965
Mihai Olos, Museum of Art, Baia Mare, RO

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2001
International Triennial of Small-Size Sculpture, Gallery Murska Sobota, SL

1997
Experiment in Romanian Art since 1960, The National Theater Galleries [Teatrul Naţional, Galeriile], Bucharest, RO

1967
13 Young artists, Constantin Brancusi Symposium, Bucharest, RO

HAPPENINGS – PERFORMANCES

1988
A Statue Walks through Europe, Runestone, runic inscription, Felling, DK

1982
A Statue Walks through Europe, Mount Olympus, Meteora, Acropolis, Bridge of Arta, Canal of Corinth, GR; Cappadocia, Gordion, Topkapı-Palace, TR

1981
A Statue Walks through Europe, Vesuvius, Pompei. IT

1980
Re-encounter with Beuys, Düsseldorf, DE
A Statue Walks through Europe, an encounter with Antoni Gaudí - Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Barcelona; Port LLigat, Figueres, ES

1979
Against Pollution, Baia Mare, RO

1978
Romanian Thought for Germany and against evil-eye, [Homage to Rilke and Beuys], Gießen, DE

1974
A Statue Walks through Europe, Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, FR

1973
Earth, Cuhea, Maramures, RO

1972
Gold – Wheat, Herja Mine, Baia Mare, RO

1969
25, Baia Mare, RO

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

2016
Constantin Prut, Dicţionar de Artǎ Modernǎşi Contemporanǎ (Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art), ediţia a III-a revǎzutǎşi adǎugitǎ, Polirom, Iaşi

2015
Ana Olos, Fragmente de jurnal Mihai Olos. La povești în casa de paie, visând la orașul-sat universal, Interart, Timișoara

2013
Magda Cârneci, Artele plastice în România: 1945 – 1989. Cu o addenda 1990 – 2010, Polirom, Bucharest

2005
Peter Weibel, Beyond Art: A Third Culture, Springer, Vienna

2000
Ileana Pintilie, Acţionismul în România în timpul comunismului (Actionism in Romania during the Communist Era), Idea Design et Print, Cluj

1983
Alexandra Titu, 13 pictori români contemporani (13 Contemporary Romanian Painters), Meridiane, Bucharest

1980
Ion Bogdan, Mihai Olos and Nicoară Timiș, Calendarul Maramureșului, Asociația folcloriștilor și etnografilor; Asociația tinerilor artiști, Baia Mare

SELECTED ARTICLES AND REVIEWS

2017
Phoebe Blatton, “The Ephemerist: A Mihai Olos Retrospective,” ArtReview, May
Oana Vasiliu, "Spring at the museum: what’s on at MNAC,” Business Review, April
"New season’s exhibitions at the National Museum of Contemporary Art – MNAC Bucharest,” e-zeppelin.ro
"The Ephemerist. A Mihai Olos Retrospective,” kunst aspekte.art, April
"Artiști români reprezentați la cel mai important târg de artă din Spania,” dcnews.ro, February
"Situations and Concepts – Artists: Horia Bernea, Pavel Ilie, Julian Mereuță, Paul Neagu, Mihai Olos, Decebal Scriba,” Vetró Baji.net, February

2016
"Mihai Olos at Galeria Plan B,” Art Viewer, July
Marina Cashdan and Molly Gottschalk, ”The 20 Best Booths at Art Basel,” artsy.com, June
Ionuț Cioană, ”Nodurile,” scena9.ro, November

2015
Ion Igna, ”Mihai Olos, un artist din România,” Cultura.ro, February
Ion Papuc, ”Mihai Olos (1940 – 2015),” convorbiri-literare.ro, April

2000
Ștefan Jurcă, ”Într-o după-amiază cu Mihai Olos,” Familia, No. 6, June

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