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.
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.”