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  • Provenance

    Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    This early work by Erik Bulatov, painted in 1966, is already indicative of the author's main themes: a quest for the space of freedom, an absolutely serious attitude toward the absurd, a feeling of the multi-dimensionality in a painting, an attempt to work simultaneously with both the surface plane and the depths of a painting.
    In terms of stylistics, this work that is virtually entirely black-and-white and combines voluminous and flat depictions resembles the artist's favourite railroad posters warning of some danger, and just like them, it evokes a feeling of alarm.The figure in the centre resembles the heroes of Magritte – Bulatov essentially borrows them, slightly transforming the famous faceless personage in bowler hat who has his back turned to the world and to the author so that the personage resembles the artist himself. Bulatov calls later depictions of the very same hero self¬portraits, but here the figure formally preserves anonymity. The surface of the picture is cleaved by stripes, punctuated lines. The jumping graph coming from who knows where adds nervousness, a dark blue circle in the centre resembling the alarmed beacon of a car rushing to help turns out to be the very peephole that permits us to pierce through the plane of the painting into the depth, into a different reality. The black silhouette of a man plastered on the black surface emphasizes the dynamics of the space that is fervently departing into a deep blue aperture. Like in a nightmare: the worlds divide, there is no exit, all the personages resemble one another. Having broken through the surface, you see a world that is no longer two-dimensional, but rather three-dimensional; no longer black-and-white, but colour; a world that in every other way it is exactly the same. The only thing in it that consoles is the blueness that fills up the entire space.
    Faina Balakhovskaya

17

Street at Night

1966
Oil on canvas.
89.5 x 109.6 cm. (35 1/4 x 43 1/4 in).
Signed, titled and dated ‘Erik Bulatov Street at Night 1966’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£30,000 - 40,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £180,500

Important Contemporary Russian Art–Property from a Foundation

28 Feb 2008, 6pm
London