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Published by MIHAIL simeonov
sculpture. works from 1971-2010
bronze and other
sculpture. works from 1971-2010
bronze and other

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: MIHAIL simeonov on Jul 31, 2010
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UNTITLED WITH KEY 2010 masonry over steel mesh

The artist with the original plaster of COMPANIONS, 1987 pix. Olof NY

THE QUEEN AND THE MIRROR, bronze, 1989. In the background YOUNG WOMAN EXPOSED TO WIND, bronze 1989

Mihail was born in 1929 in Bulgaria. His father was a Protestant minister.
Mihail’s artist uncle had his studio in the attic of their house. Young Mihail admired his uncle’s life stile, his beautiful models, the smell of paint, He attended the American Grade School, ate ice cream, played with his friends and believed that the world was a very fine place. But when in 1940 his young Jewish school mates were forced to wear the yellow star and the German army flooded the streets and the Allies started bombing Sofia heavily, and one Sunday morning the Gestapo arrested his father for helping Jews flee the country, his happy and carefree childhood ended abruptly. A few years later, in 1944, the Russians rolled into the country.It was not easy for the son of an “enemy of the people” which his father had been labeled with to attend University. However, Mihail enrolled to study philosophy at the University of Saints Clement and Methodius in Sofia. Two years later he was accepted at Sofia’s Academy of Fine Arts from where he graduated in monumental sculpture in 1954. Communist ideology was imposed along with Socialist Realism a strict and dictatorial art style. What that particular style meant exactly is still shrouded in confusion, but it was a tool for mass propaganda in the service of the absurd. There was to be only one Truth, the Soviet one. Impressionism or any other western art movements were classified as “fraud”. The Academy of Art was guarded by trusted armed volunteers during the night. And for Mihail there was a way to circumvent the imposed official and political censorship of art - the national historical perspective and images. During the eleven years (1954-1965) leading to his departure from Bulgaria, he created public works of art that survived the tempest of the times, the viciousness of the communism system and the anarchy that followed.

The artist arrived in Tunis in 1965 and embarked on his new life of freedom, enchanted by the exuberance of Tunisia’s Mediterranean colors, so different from the ones he was accustomed to. Paul Klee on a trip to Tunis in 1914 was also overwhelmed by the intense light there, which inspired his awakening to color. In Tunis, Mihail exhibited with the artist group Ecole de Tunis. One of his sculptures, a portrait statue of Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Arab poet and philosopher, attracted President Bourguiba’s attention. Bourguiba asked Mihail to sculpt his portraits and commissioned the sculpture for the 150 meter long Carrara marble wall for the National Monument, The Martyrs of Bizerte. Mihail carved the marble in Quercheta, Italy, where he met Henry Moore, Marino Marrini and Isamu Noguchi who were working in the same quarry courtyard, and Jacques Lipshitz at the nearby village of Pietra Santa. Influenced by the culture of ancient Carthage, in 1967, the artist developed a group of abstract symbols he called Sunday Morning. They became the basis of an extended series that included prints, wood and bronze sculptures and other mixed media works. In 1971 the artist emigrated to the USA and settled in New York, NY.

The cast in Africa

bronze United Nations Headquarters New York


Mihail longed for change. Life in Tunisia became like drifting in the past. In his mind bronze and stone had become hopelessly permanent materials. Also the Bulgarian authorities had refused to further extend his passport. So, he took a deep breath and in 1971 went to New York and settled there with his wife Lilda and their daughter Iana as refugees and stateless people. They lived in a raw loft space in Manhattan, E 17th street. and for the next 20 years this was his most meaningful studio. For a long time he was not able to see his daughter from a previous marriage, Elizabeth, who was still living in Bulgaria Mihail resumed work on the Sunday Morning series. Nothing was to be permanent, all should be burned, smashed, disposed of. He built floating paper roadblocks and wall configurations (Columbia University 1973), painted on flattened umbrellas and exhibited with the Poindexter Gallery in New York.

In 1974, Mihail became interested in casting from nature, not modeling but emotionally documenting what was already there. After casting sand in the Sahara desert of southern Tunisia, grass in Alsace-LorraineFrance,the Equator- Kenya, Street details in New York City, And in 1976 the artist embarked on a project to cast a wild bull elephant in Africa. In 1980 Mihail traveled to Africa where he cast a live, wild, bull elephant. The elephant was not harmed. Mihail incorporated the cast of the elephant in creating this work of art given to the United Nations as a gift by Kenya, Namibia and Nepal and inaugurated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on October 18, 1998. After the casting of the wild bull elephant in Africa, Mihail began work on the sculpture in an old boathouse in Lloyd Harbor, Long Island (1980-1986). His renewed interest in figuration resulted in the creation of a battery of sculptures. Among them: the Companions; the Messenger; large scale Sunday Morning bronzes: the Mirror, the Stella, the King, the Queen along with several life size nudes. All of them, cast in bronze, were exhibited in 1989-1990, in New York.

Mihail with his mother and Lilda in 1979 The artist with his mother and Lilda Botanical Garden, NYC, 1979


Hubert Graf and art dealer Thierry Morin, 2009

THE WARTHOGS, 1988, bronze

4 Wire sculptures from Wire and Charcoal Series, 2009-10

THE MESSENGER, 1984 bronze

RECLINED, 1989 bronze

the artistʼs Millbrook studio 1989-1993

THE MINOTAUR works from the Minotaur Series 1979-2010

LITTLE BUDHA, 2010 gilded epoxy


THE GOLDEN WARTHOG, 2009 gilded epoxy over steel net

FAUVE WITH BIRDS, 2010 Rhode Island studio

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