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

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  • Provenance

    Kniga Collection

  • Exhibited

    Moscow, 1st exhibition of the Avant-Gardists Club, 1987; Moscow, Hermitage Association, 1987; Madrid, Arco, Art Contemporain Soviétique, Sélection d’Oeuvres Provenant de la Collection Kniga, June – July, 1988

  • Literature

    Vadim Zakharov, Elefanten Stören das Leben, Durch 2, Graz, 1987, p. 47 (illustrated); 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

    Vadim Zakharov, who entered the Moscow Conceptual circle in the late 1970s, belongs to the last generation of this important underground group who emerged in Moscow earlier in this decade. The influence of this community of artists and writers with their strong commitment to the analysis of relationship of image and text, as well as his education as a graphic designer, helped him to develop his personal world centered around the notion of a book and archive. He found inspiration in very different cultural contexts – Ilya Kabakov’s albums and writings, classical Russian 19th century literature, German romanticism and French surrealism, and his oeuvre is structured more like a complex literary work than a museum-like row of pure objects. All single works appear as words that compose poetic speech when they come together as a whole. From his early years he has been building the compendium of his works as a complicated system of self-references. His early works, often done in collaboration (with Viktor Skersis with whom they formed the SZ group, and other artists), had performance characteristics. In his solo projects, he soon started to create a photo archive of his own performances which included fictitious characters – at that time mostly Elefant Man and One-eyed Pirate, later – Pastor, Madame Shleuze, and Prophet Zacharia. He made painterly versions of these photographs, or created imaginary scenes with characters (Elefant Man and One- Eyed Pirate were constantly fighting each other), to then re-create these paintings, transforming human figures into sculptures and monuments. These group sculptures, claimed Zakharov, were figurative from the front, but had an abstract back; so, the next step to his complicated art procedure was to paint the invisible abstract “inner side” of his whimsical narratives. There were just three or four works of this “abstract” nature created - the work in question was first exhibited at the historic Moscow Sotheby’s auction in 1988, which opened the way of Russian unofficial art to the market. But even if Zakharov’s paintings may be described as abstract, surrealist or expressionist, any artwork for him is just at a stage of its infinite unfolding creativity, never complete and always maintaining traces from its previous stages. Sometimes he could use his old artworks not just as reference but as physical material for newer pieces. At the same time, the unexpected sculptural quality of this early painting predicted the future turn of Zakharov’s work towards installation and monument (later, he created a monument to Theodor Adorno in Frankfurt). He wished to condense all of his works and media in one, expressing his insatiable drive to keep an archive of his own works and of the Moscow Conceptual circle as a whole. His later monumental installations which assemble documentation about works of other artists (“History of Russian Art, From Russian Avant-garde to Moscow Conceptual School”, 2003) present, again, a complicated chorus of creative gestures where new layers do not completely erase the previous ones. - Dr. Ekaterina Degot



Oil on canvas.
78 3/4 x 120 in. (200 x 304.8 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “V. Zakharov – 86 B-5 [in Cyrillic]” on the reverse.

£15,000 - 25,000 ‡♠

Sold for £42,000

The John L. Stewart Collection of Russian Contemporary Art

13 October 2007, 6pm