Grisha Bruskin - BRIC Theme Sale London Friday, April 23, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist; Private Collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Long ago, living in communist Russia, it seemed to me that communism was unshakable, that the army was incredibly strong, that the KGB was everywhere, and that Soviet power, like Egypt under the Pharaohs, would last for a few thousand years. I wanted to look into the mythological space that l inhabited, but from the side, taking the position of a scientist who has unexpectedly discovered an unknown African tribe. I liked the oscillating position of author, when on the one hand I was a dispassionate researcher, and on the other a member of the tribe being studied. My idea was to send a message to the man of the future. To propose that he look at my art the same way that we look at the art of ancient Egypt. But the message that I sent would have to be false and deceptive since the true artefact of the Communist myth was the art that created that myth: the art of Social Realism. When the historical magician waved his wand and Russia's communist pyramid came crashing down, the circle closed. The man of the future turned out to me. Circumstances made me into a guide, a kind of Virgil inviting travellers to take a look at the world of the submerged Atlantis of wich Iwas one a citizen,"
    (Grisha Bruskin, in press release for Twilight of the Gods, Malborough Gallery, New York, 2009)
    Gresha Bruskin seen himself as a kind of 'cultural archaeologist'. His scuptures and paintings present a plethora of mythological archetypes, laden with symbolism derived from a wide range of sources including ancient Egypt, Judaism, Kabbalah and the Soviet Union. Within this overarching anthology, each series of works can be seen as a separate book that anticipates and complements the next, with titles such as Alphabet (1984), Lexico 1986), Logia (1988), The Birth of a Hero (1987-1990) and Metamorphoses (1993). To Bruskin, letters and words are symbolic in their own right, and his characters form a type of alphabet or vocabulary. Although every figure is part of an order and hierarchy created by the artist, each possesses an air of individual autonomy, as it bears no ressemblance to any of the other players. The artist states: 'To me, each personage has a specific meaning. All of them make up a kind of text. Each personage is a letter in my own alphabet.'
    Bruskin graduated from the Art Department at the Moscow Textile Institute in 1968. The following year he became a member of the Soviet Artist' Union; there followed three exhibitions, all of which were prematurely closed by the Soviet authorities. Bruskin's work was recognized internationally when, in 1988, his pivotal work Fundamental Lexicon sold for a record price at Sotheby's first Russian Avant-Garde and Soviet Contemporary Art auction in Moscow (the painting was also the cover lot of the catalogue). The artist emigrated to New York shortly after the auction. In 1999 Bruskin was chosen to represent Russia at the home of the German parliamentm, by contributing a pemanent installation  to the redesigned Reichstag in Berlin
    The present lot consists of three sculptures from the series The Birth of a Hero from 1987-90. The works belong to a series of fifteen scuptures inspired by the white plaster statues that were a trademark presence in most Soviet parks. As a child growing up in the Soviet Union, Bruskin was such monuments as an important symbol of Soviet ideology. In recreating them on a small scale he gives them mysthique of an ancient artefact: a relic reminding us of a dissolved, forgotten culture now become myth. There is the idealized soldier, holding a branner which ironically states that Socialism is invincible. The mythological beast with human features and an all-seeing eye can be paralleled with Egyptian deities-lioness-headed Sekhmet, perharps, or jackal-headed Anubis. The schoolgirl wearing a hat with rabbit's ears and holding a Star of October (a badge and rank given to children when they start school) can be seen as a reference to the artist's own childhood, as well as a symbol of idealized Soviet youth growing up with a pure belief in the ideology. Bruskin himself remembers that, as a child, he 'thought Stalin was god'. Each figure is independant and yet their odd coexistence can be seen as a time capsule, a successful demonstration of the artist's goal 'to look at Socialism from the future and to create a fundamental lexicon of Soviet types'.  


Three figures: Untitled from Birth of the Hero

(i) 38 x 23 x 29.5 cm (15 x 9 x 11 5/8 in); 37.5 x 14 x 12 cm (14 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 4 3/4 in); (iii) 40 x 12 x 18 cm (15 3/4 x 4 3/4 x 7 in).

£150,000 - 200,000 ‡♠

BRIC Theme Sale

23-24 April 2010