Mihail Simeonov, Bulgarian (1929 - )

 Mihail Simeonov, Bulgarian (1929 - )

Mihail Asen Simeonov was born in 1929 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Since 1970, the year he emigrated to the USA, he signs his works MIHAIL. His studio is in Orient, New York.

His uncle was an artist, and Young Mihail loved the smell of paint and the atmosphere of his studio. He longed to become a sculptor.

Mihail entered the Academy of Fine Art in Sofia, in 1946, completing his artistic training in 1954 (PhD in Monumental and Decorative Sculpture). He continued to work in Bulgaria sculptural commissions of national significance: the "Paisii Hilendarski" monument in Sofia, "Zahari Zograf the Icon Painter" (National Gallery, Sofia), "The Uprising of Kings Asen and Peter-1186 " (Museum of Patrimony in Veliko Tirnovo), the stone group "Workers" (Industrial plant Kremikovtzi), "Boy With Bird" (Plovdiv) until 1965, when he left for Tunisia to complete several government commissions including the figurative marble reliefs for the national monument "The Martyrs of Bizert". His figurative sculptures are characterized by their vitality, power and elaborate form.

In 1971, Mihail established his studio permanently in the US and in 1974 began exhibiting with a gallery in New York. His "Sunday Morning" and "Minotaur" series contain mythological and Mediterranean influences.

The SUNDAY MORNING SERIES begun in the summer of 1966 in Tunisia. Mihail, after a stormy discourse with the Communist Head of State of Bulgaria was exiled there with papers valid for 45 days. He soon found himself free on the exuberant Mediterranean land in Africa, where Paul Klee had made drawings and Michel Faucault was teaching a course in philosophy at the University of Tunis. Finding ancient Carthage alive in its ruins had a jolting effect on the artist as he drew one Sunday morning. Hens, the title of the series, group of images which in the years ahead he was to interpret in prints and drawings, in various paper and wood sculptures and large bronzes.

In 1975 Mihail made six (h. 9 to 11 in.) wax sculptures: the MIRROR, the TANGO, the STELLA, the BANNER, the QUEEN and the KING. In 1980 in his Boat House studio in Lloyd Harbor, Long Island, he started work on the large Sunday Morning sculptures. By the end of 1986 the original plasters were completed. Also completed were several large size figurative works: The Companions, Messenger, Reclined, Young Girl Exposed to Wind and the Warthogs. They were all cast in bronze in 1989.

Mihail started work on the project in 1976. He conceives the idea of casting a live elephant in order to promote environmental preservation. Once he had formulated the visual representation of the idea, Cast the Sleeping Elephant took shape through an intensive philosophical and aesthetic exploration, informing a large and varied body of work. As preparations for the cast were being made, Mihail explored its visual possibilities, created a vocabulary of representation that has remained constant in his work.

In 1980 Mihail traveled to Africa where he cast a live, wild bull elephant. The elephant was never harmed. He incorporated the cast of the elephant in creating the Cast the Sleeping Elephant bronze sculpture given to the United Nations as a gift by Kenya, Namibia and Nepal. Installed at garden of United Nations Headquarters, New York, November 18, 1998.

THE MINOTAUR. Through a series of bronze sculptures and works on paper begun in 1987, Mihail uses the Minotaur as emblem to expand upon and question the enigma of creativity. For him the Minotaur is the link between nature and man's creativity, somewhere in the labyrinth from the time of his birth to the time of his violent death lies hidden the key to our destiny. He is the link because creativity requires man to draw upon the uncivilized self, to explore the animality of being human. The series include a variety of sculptures, paintings and prints.

The ROCKETSHIPS SERIES begun in 1982 consist of large charcoal works on paper, yellow pad drawings and metal sculptures. They were first exhibited in Stockholm in 1983. Fifteen years later (1998) Mihail returned to the subject and painted 20 more Rocketships on canvas.

In 1989 Mihail lost his New York studio and for the next four years lived and worked in Millbrook, NY. The change of scenery and circumstance opened for him a new line of thought. He completed several, still in plaster, sculptures: a 17 feet high Minotaur, The Garden Of The Lost Snake, Grand Duke and Young Man With Leopard In Mind. He also printed a Minotaur Portfolio of nine prints and a number of other print editions

His recently completed animalistic TRUMPETER was exhibited in March, 2002 by Cross Path Culture, New York.

Selected publications relevant to CAST THE SLEEPING ELEPHANT sculpture

Le Monde, France 08 Mars 1999, pg 1, "Ce nouveau membre qui sÇme le trouble aux Nations unies"
The Times (London), November 20, 1998, pg 19, "Red-faced UN tries to cover up unruly member"
The New York Times, November 20, 1998. Joyce Wader, "Public Lives, "As Sculptor of Nature the Man thinks Big"
Time, December 21, 1998, Mihail-"quotes"
The New York Times, November 19, 1998, "A Bit Too Jumbo"
New York Post, November 18, 1998, pg SIX, Richard Johnson, "Tusk, Tusk!",
Daily News,November 20, 1998, pg 95, Austin Fenner, "Tusk! Tusk! Statue is blushing beauty",
Newsweak,December 21, 1998, pg 16, Mihail, "What are you looking at?"
Democracy-Culture, (Sofia-Bulgaria), May 16, 1998, "Mihail wants to cast the world"
The New York Times, August 3, 1997, " Mihail", Helen Harrison
The New York Times, September 1, 1996 Tim Walker
The Suffolk Times, Greenport, NY, August 8, 1996- "Mihail"
The Columbus Dispatch, May 19, 1996 Jacqueline Hali (exhibition review)
The Traveler-Watchman, Greenport, NY, Thursday, January 18, 1996, Michael P. Conioy, "Mihail, Orient Sculptor,"
The Suffolk Times, Bob Liepa, Thursday, May 18, 1995
The Columbus Dispatch, Jacqueline Hall, (exhibition review) May 8, p. 9H, 1994
The New York Law Journal, November 4, 1995 Martin Fox, "Free Speech Entitles Artist To Sue Over

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