Tibor Oláh

* 1952  

  • There in one bed, three, four of us, used to sleep, next to each other´s feet. We ate from one plate. Mum used to cook in such big bowl, they would call it wash bowl, but it was just that big, it had volume of like 15 litres. Mum would cook goulash soup in it, or traditional dumplings or anything, and we would eat from one such bowl and as kids we never argued. And my mum, what was left, she would wipe and eat it with her fingers.

  • I remember that once my cousin, who was older than I, put on purpose a nail into the swill, so that a poor pig, which would eat it, so we could kill it to have meat. That little rascal! We had to slaughter that pig, because it was not eating, when that rascal put a nail into its swill.

  • It was 10 pm and a person was already suspicious, the policemen came and he was already suspicious. Something somewhere happened and a little darker skin was enough to take you to police. For nothing! It did happen to me; they beat the soles on my feet and repeated to just confess. And I had to sign, that no harm was made on my health and body. I simply signed, that everything was alright. But it wasn´t. I had to walk on toes, that much... I had to take off my shoes, kneel on the chair and they... with a baton. Can you imagine? It is as if someone puts 220 V into you, when they hit your sole with a baton very hard. I, literally, walked home on my toes.

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    Plešivec, 04.05.2017

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I am yet not satisfied with myself and am working towards it

Tibor Oláh
Tibor Oláh
photo: Foto: Július Rusnák

Tibor Oláh was born on May 30, 1952 in Detva (a small town near Zvolen, Slovakia). He lived with his family in a wooden cottage in the Roma settlement segregated from town, even though he does not have only Roma ancestors. He finished the elementary school in town and continued in his studies at the secondary machinery school as a wood-turner, which he did not finish. He became interested in painting already in the elementary school and he´s been an amateur painter up to now. In his 16, he began to work in the building industry; later his father secured a place for him in the ZŤS Detva metallurgy plant, where he worked as a wood-turner. After a while, he moved to the Czech Republic due to dissatisfaction with living conditions (in particular racism and discrimination), where he stayed with short breaks working at different mechanical positions for about 15 years. After his return from the Czech Republic, he found a job as a worker in the Inžinierske Stavby Košice company and moved to Rožňava in the Eastern Slovakia. Here, he contacted a local cultural centre and presented his paintings. The centre was first to organise him an art exhibition, which was successful. From that time, his works ware presented at various exhibitions, where he received many acknowledgement certificates and awards. His works are part of permanent exhibition in the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno and the Ethnography Museum in Martin. According to the curator of the Ethnography Museum in Martin, Tibor Oláh and his brother belong to the most significant amateur painters (from so called “Detva school”). Even now, he is committed to his ambitions and plans to further paint, exhibit and develop.