Home Architect Omara (Mara Oláh) at the long-term handstand

Omara (Mara Oláh) at the long-term handstand

by godlove4241
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In 1988, at the age of forty-three, Mara Oláh (1945-2020), nicknamed Omara, began painting as a sort of healing process after the death of her mother. Her images are directly inspired by her past and present experiences as a Roma woman living in Hungary. From 1992, she will add inscriptions in the form of legends to her works to ensure that there is no room for misinterpretation: she will tell her own story.

The title of this exhibition: “You envied me. So, I went to the World Wide Web and even protected my name. . .” – is taken from that of a painting, 2007-09, in which the artist depicts herself draped on the canvas in the pose of an odalisque. In this fantasy, Omara wears a maroon dress, her azure eyes offset by the crimson color that adorns her lips, nails, and accessories. Beneath one palm are papers marked with the word “royalty.” In a smaller insert, the artist described how she felt perceived by the art scene: hunched under rugs, unruly hair covering her face. This double self-portrait captures Omara’s careful management of her public persona on canvas. Other paintings present different performed identities: the Roma mother, the world famous artist, the naive painter, the entrepreneur owner of the Mara gallery (the first private Roma gallery in Hungary), the great lady enjoying a of leisure in his “luxury cabin”. to Szarvasgede.

Obviously, it would be reductive to read Omara’s work solely through the lens of her Roma heritage, although she often faces racism in her paintings. In My God Damn You racist miser, this is my message to you. . .2009, she criticizes the indifference of the Hungarian population in the face of a wave of murders of people from the Roma community. Oh, but I pity you. You will never know what it is to be a good person. . .2014, recounts how two police officers presumed the artist to be homeless when she dared to sit in the shade in a public square with bags full of her works.

While a new generation of Roma artists may seek a more ambiguous approach to their identity, Omara’s personal and charismatic voice marked an important step in empowering the Roma artistic community.

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