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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Exhibited

    Kunsthalle Zurich, January 15 - February 28, 1988; Portikus Frankfurt am Main,
    March 24 - April 24, 1988; Kunstverein Bonn, May 2 - June 4,1988; Amsterdam, De Appel Foundation, June 11 - July 6, 1988; Kunstverein Freiburg, July 12 - August 19,1988; Paris, Musee National d’Art Moderne, Galeries Contemporaines, Centre Georges Pompidou, September 28 - November 27, 1988, Erik Bulatov Moskau; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Prato, Centro Per L’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Artisti Russi Contemporanei, February 10 - March 14, 1990; Moscow, State Tretyakov Gallery, Eric Bulatov. That’s It., September 19 - November 19, 2006

  • Literature

    C. Jolles, ed., Erik Bulatov, Zurich, 1988, n.p. (illustrated); E. Bulatov, C. Jolles, V. Missiano, N. Ouvrard, S. Zadora, Erik Bulatov, Paris, 1988, p. 61 (illustrated); M. Berio, I. Luce, L. Risaliti, Artisti Russi Contemporanei, Prato, 1990, p. 117 (illustrated); A. Erjavec, ed., Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition: politicized art under late socialism, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, 2003 pp. 33-34; N. Divona, N. Godzina, A. Kharitonova, I. Lebedeva, and A. Yerofeev, Eric Bulatov. That’s It., Moscow, 2006, p. 113 (illustrated); A. Gee, “Escape Artist”, The Moscow Times, Arts & Ideas, September 22, 2006; Ekaterina Lagache, ed., Art Exis Collector Book, Paris, 2006, p. 18 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A growing number of Russians have realized that the work of Erik Bulatov is a national treasure, that Bulatov is one of Russia’s great artists of the 20th century, its finest post-war painter. Bulatov played a significant role in our literary culture by working to offset its verbal slant. He substiantially enriched our experience of visual knowledge, and he defined the parameters of the Russian gaze and Russian vision in direct meaning of those.
    A. Yerofeev, Erik Bulatov, Moscow, 2006
    Erik Bulatov, together with Ilya Kabakov, is a pivotal actor of a generation of artists who emerged after the reigns of the avant-garde and Social Realism. Considered a leader in the movements of Moscow Conceptualism and Sots Art, his oeuvre transgressed the ideological reality of the Soviet system in order to unravel illusion and false representation.
    “I try to use the language of Soviet reality, which is one of political clichés, used to expound ideology. In this official, impersonal idiom very personal things can be expressed. I concentrate on a thing itself, rather than on my relationship to it. And so, I free myself from it, and become a channel for life. I begin to understand its hidden meaning, casting aside the illusions which falsely represent the truth. For me, the most important thing in art is being able to see and understand the things I do not perceive in life. Essentially, pictures are my idea of freedom. They provide the space beyond the social world. I think that the worst thing that Soviet propaganda has done, forgetting the lies and nonsense, is to have persisted in brainwashing us into believing that the social world we inhabit daily is the only reality.”
    (E. Bulatov and A. Mittal, “Excerpts from a dialogue”, Artisti Russi
    Contemporanei, Prato, p.41).
    This present work demonstrates Bulatov’s critique of the illusion conceived by the Soviet system. Viewed from the window of a fleeting train, the warning sign “Do Not Lean” obstructs the beautiful and peaceful scenery of a birch forest, fracturing the composition in two parts. This mention, stated in trains for security reasons, has a double meaning within this context: the train giving a sense of freedom whereas the message ordering us back into confinement. Liberty is also symbolized by the threedimensional space rendered through the vast blue sky and green pasture. The juxtaposition of text however breaks the depth of the painting recreating a two-dimensional plan. Through this method, we are called back to a limited reality, reminded that this sense of freedom is all illusion, a brittle surface which can collapse at any moment.
    In a larger historical context, there is a certain irony to this painting which the artist could not have realized when rendering it. Painted in 1987, the same year that Gorbatchev introduced Perestroika, Do Not Lean foretold the disintegration of a utopian dream. This reform was the catalyst which eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet system. Artists of the time, who had lived hidden in an artistic gulag, finally had the opportunity to travel, and express their art openly - a liberty which Bulatov could only imagine in his paintings.

17

Ne Prislonyatsa (Do Not Lean)

1987
Oil on canvas.
94 1/2 x 66 7/8 in. (240 x 169.9 cm).
Signed, titled and dated "E. Bulatov Ne Prislonyatsa 1987 " on the reverse.

Estimate
£100,000 - 150,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £916,000

Contemporary Art

22 June 2007, 4pm & 5pm
London