Mandych, Olena (b. Ilona Sinali, September 26, 1902, Giulesti [Hungarian Kingdom], Romania; d. March 12, 1975, Kosice [Czechoslovakia], Slovakia) — first professional sculptor among the Rusyns of Czechoslovakia. After completing her gymnasium studies in Kosice and Budapest Mandych went to Prague, where she studied briefly at the Advanced School of Art and Industry/Um Prum (1921-1922) and then under the renowned Czech sculptor Jan Stursa at the Academy of Fine Arts (1922-1925). In 1926 she undertook a study tour of Munich, Paris, and Italy. That same year she married Ivan Mandych and developed a great interest in his homeland of *Subcarpathian Rus’.
While still a student, Mandych did portraits and statues of Rusyn cultural awakeners, and in 1926 her bust in white marble of Ievhenii *Fentsyk was installed in a public square in Uzhhorod. At the same time she completed the statue Vivchar (The Shepherd), which was the first in a series of genre works from traditional Rusyn life that also included Lisorub (The Woodcutter), Alegorychna kompozytsiia (An Allegory), and Karpato-rus’ka pisnia (A Carpatho-Rusyn Song). She soon received several commissions that resulted in memorial busts of Adol’f *Dobrians’kyi in Uzhhorod (1929) and Michalovce (1928) and of Aleksander *Dukhnovych in Khust (1932) and Kolochava (1930). The most impressive of these memorial works was a life-size statue of the founding president of Czechoslovakia, Tomas G. *Masaryk, completed in 1928. It stood in the main square of the governmental district (Galago) of Uzhhorod until the Hungarian authorities removed it when they occupied the city in the fall of 1938 (it was shipped to Prague and after the war destroyed by Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime).
In 1930 Mandych received a stipendium from the Czechoslovak Ministry of Education to study in France; upon her return she completed a series of portrait busts of several contemporary figures, including the first two governors of Subcarpathian Rus’, Gregory *Zhatkovych (1931) and Antonii *Beskyd (1931). The epitome of her career came with statues of Aleksander *Mytrak in Mukachevo (1931) and of Aleksander Dukhnovych in Presov (1933). For the latter she prepared several variants, eventually settling on one that showed the Rusyn national awakener standing as a teacher alongside a young student.
With the fall of Czechoslovakia and the outset of World War II Mandych’s creative career came to an end. She spent the war years with her family living in Mukachevo and later Budapest. Struck with a serious illness (radykulit) she was unable to do any sculpting; she spent the last 30 years of her life virtually forgotten while working as a cashier in a shop in the eastern Slovak city of Kosice.
Bibliography: Vladyslav Greshlyk, “Nezakinchene tango: do nedozhytoho 85-richchia O.S. Mandych,” Duklia, XXXV, 5 (Presov, 1987), pp. 59-63; Vladyslav Greshlyk, “Tvorchist’ Oleny Mandych mizhvoiennoho periodu,” in Mikulas Musinka, ed., Zakarpats’ka Ukraina u skladi Chekhoslovachchyny, 1919-1939 (Presov, 2000), pp. 207-214.
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.