Ivan Chuikov - The John L. Stewart Collection of Russian Contemporary Art London Friday, October 12, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Kniga Collection, Paris

  • Exhibited

    Madrid, Arco, Art Contemporain Soviétique, Sélection d’Oeuvres Provenant de la Collection Kniga, June – July, 1988

  • Literature

    Editions du Regard and Galerie de France, Kniga eds., Art Contemporain Soviétique, Sélection d'Oeuvres Provenant de la Collection Kniga, Paris, 1988, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Amidst the multitude of 'Fragments' by Chuikov, this work is the only one of its kind. The artist produced a few works comprised of a multitude of elements, and only here are they not at all organized or structured – this work resembles a puzzle, the answer to which every person can make up for himself. Confident in the conditionality of any depiction, Chuikov in his 'Fragments' demonstratively refutes the very possibility of preserving the integrity of a painting during the transference of living reality into a work of art. The conceptualist Chuikov, who was never interested in politics nor social themes performed experiments on art that were completely inadmissible from the point of view of the reigning style supported by the totalitarian state, a style that insisted on a unified and universal painting of the world. Like virtually all works, Chuikov’s 'Fragments' represent information for the contemplation of the nature of the visual. Depicted on 23 small square pictures, these are fragments of paintings, photographs, advertising posters of various styles and periods, like individual pages, letters, syllables torn from a text – and except for their size, they have nothing in common with one another. As in virtually all of his works, the artist operates on fragments – there are enough of them to define and establish the style. “The idea of this work rests in the fact that its form is the content.This is a collection of various styles, various codes. The depiction is encoded information about a certain reality; a living, moving reality is transposed onto a surface with certain conventionalities. A familiar, singular form is not perceived – the viewer immediately penetrates to the content, and when there are a lot of forms and they are different, and the content as such is absent, then it is namely the form that emerges to the foreground.” “The majority of fragments are made from actually existing photographs, posters of paintings: the works of Ingres, my mother used...There is nothing invented in them, but they are not drawn precisely, but rather freely. For me the unification of the author’s gesture and my gesture is important, because they don’t always coincide. But there are also fragments of my paintings that were made up and that do not exist in reality, pseudo-copies – for example, Chuikov’s painting The Red Line doesn’t exist...It seems to me that in order to demonstrate the style, a few small pieces are sufficient.” Little pictures of identical format resemble lotto games or a puzzle, little pieces of the entire whole that you have to assemble in a specific order. But this game doesn’t have any rules, instructions or a single correct resolution. The connection between the fragments is only aesthetic. “Each work that at some point was urgent, sometimes radical, at some moment becomes a decorative element.” The potential to combine fragments, to arrange the paintings – a canvas, mosaic, or fresco - to arrange any configuration is delegated to the owner who becomes the co-author of the artist. - Faina Balakhovskaya


Series of Fragments

23 pieces: oil on canvas.
9 5/8 x 9 5/8 in. (24.4 x 24.4 cm) each.
Signed, titled and dated “Series of Fragments 86-87 I. Chuikov [in Cyrillic]” on the reverse of each.

£30,000 - 40,000 ‡♠

Sold for £84,000

The John L. Stewart Collection of Russian Contemporary Art

13 October 2007, 6pm