Erik Bulatov, Self-portrait, 2011 / Courtesy of 3 Grafton Street gallery

Autoportrait – Erik Bulatov, Autoportrait, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

BOT by Erik Bulatov At 3 Grafton Street

6 October – 4 December


Considered to be one of the main founders of the Moscow conceptual school, Erik Bulatov returns to London for BOT, his first UK show since exhibiting at the ICA in 1989. Presented by Kasia Kulczyk and curated by de Pury de Pury, BOT will showcase Bulatov’s trademark style through a selection of more than 30 recent paintings, works on paper and some preparatory sketches. The exhibition comes at a time of renewed interest in Bulatov, who was recently commissioned to create two large-scale murals for the entrance hall of the new Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.

Erik Bulatov creates bold and colourful work that draws inspiration from Soviet symbols and propaganda. He believes that art exists in a space separate from our everyday lives, and recreates this delineation through illusion, perspective and the juxtaposition of ironic, humorous and political imagery and text. Bulatov’s subject matter can often be characterized by realistic depictions of landscapes, urban settings and figures that are overlaid by Soviet phrases written in large graphic lettering. His use of Cyrillic letters is comparable to some of the pioneers of the Russian avant-garde movement, such as Olga Rozanova or Maria Stepanowa.

Erik Bulatov, Entrance-No-Entrance, 2006 / Courtesy of 3 Grafton Street Gallery

Entrance No Entrance – Erik Bulatov, Entrance-no-Entrance, 2006. Courtesy of the artist, Private Collection and Simon Lee Gallery. Image credit Peter Mallet.

In 2013 Bulatov was given a retrospective by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, and in 2012 the American Friends of the Hermitage Museum honoured Bulatov and Jeff Koons as two artists of seminal importance in Russia and America. Bulatov’s work has been included in some of the most important exhibitions of 20th century Russian Art, including Russia! at the Guggenheim Museums in New York, USA (2005) and Bilbao, Spain (2006) and Contrepoint, l’art  contemporain russe at the Musée du Louvre, Paris (2011).

BOT will be the second exhibition presented by Kasia Kulczyk at 3 Grafton Street curated by de Pury de Pury, following a show of work by the Polish artist Wojciech Fangor in December 2014. The exhibition will be accompanied by a talk between Bulatov and Hans Ulrich Obrist on 5 October.

  Kasia Kulczyk says, “We are proud to be holding the first London exhibition since 1989 of the towering Russian artist of our time, Erik Bulatov. As was the case with our previous exhibition held at 3 Grafton Street, which was devoted to the great Polish artist, Wojciech Fangor, our passion is to show work by important Eastern European artists that had hitherto only little exposure in London.”

Simon de Pury, co-founder of de Pury de Pury, says, “We are thrilled to be staging Erik Bulatov’s first exhibition in London since 1989. Ever since I first worked with his pieces while auctioneering for the groundbreaking 1988 Sotheby’s auction in Russia, which marked the first sale in the country since the 1917 revolution, I have loved his work. The first artwork I ever purchased was a Bulatov piece, and I consider his pieces to be bold and powerful while also subtle and refined. ”

About the artist

Erik Bulatov, BOT, Here, 2001 / Courtesy of 3 Grafton Street gallery

BOT – Erik Bulatov, BOT, Here, 2001. Image credit Jean-Louis Losi

Erik Bulatov was born in 1933 in Sverdlovsk, Russia. He studied painting at the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow, graduating in 1958. He was one of the founding members of the Sretensky Boulevard Group in the 1960s. The Group was an informal association of like-minded artists that included Ilya Kabakov and Oleg Vasiliev, and whose work fell outside the style defined as acceptable by the Soviet government. It was only during the 1980’s Perestroika movement, which led to a series of reforms within the Communist Party, that artists such as Bulatov were allowed to exhibit and sell work for the first time. His first major exhibition was held at the Kunsthalle Zurich and Centre Pompidou in 1988, and recent shows include I Live – I See, Manege, Moscow, Russia (2014); Erik Bulatov: Paintings 1971–2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Geneva, Switzerland (2010).  His first major retrospective was held at the Tretyakow-Galerie, Moscow (2006), and he was also featured in the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988) and the Third Moscow Biennale (2009). Bulatov was recently awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in recognition of his significant contribution to the arts, and the Order of Friendship by the Russian Federation in 2014.

  Please visit the website for more details.