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  • Provenance

    Livet Reichard Company, Inc., New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    These two large compositions (lots 1 and 2) by Igor Markarevich are preliminary versions intended for the exhibit-installation ‘Freedom-Liberty' that was held at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in New York in 1990, but ultimately, they were not used in it. The final version of the exhibit consisted of six canvases, three of which depicted the NewYork Statue of Liberty, and the other three were purely textual compositions using the word ‘freedom' (in Russian). One of these preliminary works presented in this catalogue, like the depiction of the statue, appeals to American values – in this case, they are symbolized by the flag. The other represents a more philosophical (and skeptical) commentary on the theme of freedom. This second work was used by Makarevich in the USA as motifs of his own early painting depicting a typical Soviet (as it seemed to the artist at the time) cemetery headstone that was frightening in its anonymity and ordinariness. There was not yet a name on the headstone, but rather in its place was the word ‘freedom.'
    However it would be completely inaccurate to see in these works the juxtaposition of Western ‘freedom' to Soviet ‘non-freedom.' Rather Makarevich – who by this time already had some experience living in the West – bears witness to the fact that he was unable to discover freedom anywhere, except, perhaps, for the very word itself which functions as something quite poetic. In contrast to analogous ‘two-layered' compositions by Erik Bulatov, in which the word is like an emissary of ideology and crosses out the depiction, here the textual element, on the contrary, seems to be floating in its own ‘air.' The dilemma of the ‘depiction – text' that is so characteristic for Moscow conceptualism is unambiguously resolved here in favour of the text, whereas the depiction represents a consciously trivialized quotation. The title of the exhibit and the entire series of paintings connected to it points out the ambiguity of the Russian word ‘freedom' that translates into English in at least two different ways, and yet, according to the author's viewpoint, defies definition. As in various other instances, a key theme for Makarevich turns out to be the theme of death permeating any depiction – the depiction is always a kind of unique headstone. It is the word itself that preserves its ‘freedom.'
    Both paintings are executed using the encaustic technique that was characteristic for Makarevich and familiar to the artist through headstone portraits from Fayoum (a large collection of which is maintained in the A.S. Pushkin Museum of Graphic Art in Moscow), as well as via Soviet propagandistic wall murals. In and of itself, the use of this technology indicates the artist's characteristic appeal to eternity and to the museum status of art.
    Dr Ekaterina Degot

2

Freedom

1990
Encaustic on canvas.
147.5 x 147.5 cm. (58 x 58 in).
Signed twice, titled and dated ‘I.Makarevich Freedom 1990 I.Makarevich’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£8,000 - 12,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £14,900

Important Contemporary Russian Art–Property from a Foundation

28 Feb 2008, 6pm
London