Olena Mandychova (Olena Mandičová in Slovakian) was born in Giulesti, Romania in 1902. She was the first professional sculptor among Rusyns in Czechoslovakia and only 25 years old when T.G. Masaryk, the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, sat for her. Consequently, the bronze statue that now doesn’t exist anymore, was her masterpiece.
In the 1930s she made sculptures and memorial busts of Rusyn political and cultural activists (A. Dukhnovych, A. Dobriansky, A. Mytrak) erected in a number of towns in eastern Slovakia and western Ukraine. Mandychova also created pieces showing aspects of the traditional Rusyn life (a shepherd, a woodcutter).
The turbulent years of the Second World War, exile, Communism and a serious illness ended her career and “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”(1).
The statue of Alexander Dukhnovych in Presov, Slovakia, and Yevgeniy Fenczik in Uzhorod, Ukraine are probably the last surviving works. Other statues were taken down and destroyed by the authorities, or finished off by thieves. One of her other last surviving works is “The Winged Wheel” on the main train station in Bratislava that has been there since 1939.