One to Watch

Reflecting on Space and Self with Mihaela Mihalache

The figurative subject matter of Mihaela Mihalache’s paintings reflect upon concepts of space and self. She works primarily in oils, and subtly incorporates spray paint, acrylic paint, and water color, illuminating her experimental artistic approach.

Mihalache received her PhD at the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Her participation in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world (including London, Romania, and Barcelona) has garnered her well-deserved attention from a diverse portfolio of collectors. In 2017, Mihalache became a member of the Union of Fine Artists in Romania.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

The theme of interest for my work is the approach of the interior space, divided into three main directions: human and architectural space, self-referential workshop, underground interior. This project is about the footprint man manages to leave as a result of his living in a limited space as well as the subjectivity of his self in his discussion with his personal self. Regarding artistic self-referentiality, the workshop as a truly architecturally delimited space and of course integrated in the context of future social opportunities and contexts becomes the reason for the creation of the work and the intimate space of communicating with the public and with oneself.

How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?

I drew continuously from a young age, and later felt the need to express it academically. While I was interested in painting, my productivity in this medium only materialized it in 2011, with my admission to the National University of Arts, Bucharest, Romania.

How has your style and practice changed over the years?

My style has changed a lot as a result of my desire to tackle countless techniques and continue to experiment with new practices and concepts. I’ve crossing passages from the figurative to the abstract, and am currently working across both styles.

Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?

I begin either by filling a background with diluted color, or by drawing in the contour of the characters or figurative subjects of the work. I integrate chromatically both what “dictates” my photographic sketch and what I am composing ad hoc from own interpretation. My work is finished when it succeeds in fulfilling my triangle of perfection, namely: good technique, perfect reproduction of the original sketch, success both close-up and at a distance. When these three criteria are met, I like the work and when I like it, I can freely declare it finished.

What are some of your favorite artist experiences?

The most exciting experiences I’ve had as an artist was to leave on a half-year scholarship in Thessaloniki, Greece. A special moment for me professionally was that of my master’s admission at the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The scholarship offered by the famous Academy of Art, otherwise known as “The School of Painting in Cluj”, was my greatest dream.

Who are some of your favorite artists and why?

My favorite artists are Theodor Aman, Rembrandt, and contemporary Daniel Pitin, as they approach the themes of space, figurative and color.

About the Author

Monty Preston is the Assistant Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at