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  • Provenance

    Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    The painting is constructed like a collage, incorporating completely diverse elements, and in terms of its structure it resembles the works of the Russian avant-garde artists of the beginning of the 20th century. In the beginning of his career, it is as though Erik Bulatov retraces their tracks (only in the opposite direction: his abstract series preceeded the cycle of ‘urban' works), earnestly striving to master various devices, methods and styles. It is not a new style that becomes his main discovery, but rather the potential for their unification.
    In this work Bulatov attempts to analyze the principle operating mechanism of the surrounding socium and he investigates the possibilities of conveying on the canvas not only this mechanism, but also the process of comprehension. The tension of Urban Painting in which, it seems, as in a normal megapolis there is absolutely everything, arises from the juxtaposition of anonymous conditional figures and realistic portrait, picturesque and schematic streets, figurative and non-figurative objects, lines and colour, the dark night in the painting imprisoned in the canvas and the white light of the canvas, the illusory depth and the actual surface of the painting.
    Gathering various, virtually incompatible methods of perception of the material world into a common composition, Bulatov leaves a large part of the canvas free of depiction – in the form of a blinding white surface. In the face of this purity and the emptiness of the canvas, all the other elements are completely equal and identically secondary. Having combined various stylistics and mutually exclusive methods, Bulatov composed a unique kind of catalogue of virtually all the instruments accessible to him (except actually words — they came later); he demonstrated the possibility of their coexistence inside of one, common plane and their mutual work on behalf of a single image.
    Faina Balakhovskaya

18

Urban Painting

1966
Oil on canvas.
90 x 121 cm. (35 1/2 x 47 5/8 in).
Signed, titled and dated ‘Erik Bulatov Urban Painting 1966’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£20,000 - 30,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £108,500

Important Contemporary Russian Art–Property from a Foundation

28 Feb 2008, 6pm
London