Oleg Vassiliev - The John L. Stewart Collection of Russian Contemporary Art London Friday, October 12, 2007 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Oleg Vassiliev, an important painter of the first generation of unofficial conceptual artists in Moscow, received a very traditional Soviet education as a narrative, figurative graphic artist, which he used when working, from the 1960s onwards (together with his friend Erik Bulatov), as a children’s book illustrator. At the same time, and again in a close dialogue with Bulatov working on the same problematic, in his oil-on-canvas works he was reflecting on the very notions of mimesis and illusionist painting, creating a conceptual frame for his own work and, in a way, for the whole Soviet art deeply committed to the figurative. For Vassiliev, a ‘kartina’ – ‘easel painting’, or ‘peinture de chevalet’ in French, an idiomatic term describing an artwork which emancipated itself from the wall – is a magical door into a different reality. It is the true human space, dramatically opposed in Vassiliev’s opinion to both the flat poster-like painting of official Soviet Realism and the one-dimensional mass culture of the West. Often in Vassiliev’s paintings and drawings, diagonal axes point to the center, the existential core, which emanates a transcendental light of true reality. The paradigmatic idea of Russian landscape – simple and nonspectacular, but revealing its immense philosophical depth to an attentive explorer – plays an important role here, which makes Vassiliev a perfect representative of what Boris Groys once described as “Moscow Romantic Conceptualism”. - Dr. Ekaterina Degot


Night (Study for Zone N1)

Oil on canvas.
26 1/8 x 18 in. (66.4 x 45.7 cm).
Signed and dated “Vassiliev 88 [in Cyrillic]” lower right; signed, titled and dated “O. Vassiliev 1988 Night [in Cyrillic]” and “O. Vassiliev Study for Zone N1 87-88 [in English]” on the reverse.

£15,000 - 25,000 ‡♠

Sold for £34,800

The John L. Stewart Collection of Russian Contemporary Art

13 October 2007, 6pm