Erik Bulatov

Born in 1933 in Sverdlovsk, Russia
Lives and works in Paris, France

Erik Bulatov is one of the most important living artists from Russia and Eastern Europe. He numbers, along with Ilya Kabakov, among a small but significant group of Russian artists who, at a remove from the governmental regulations of the Soviet art system, attained completely independent forms of artistic expression.
Bulatov’s drawings and paintings have an extraordinary coherence. His unique, stringent pictorial system was first expressed in his word pictures of the 1970s, where he analyzed the interplay of contrasting symbolic systems, such as language and images or abstraction and illusion – a theme he is still concerned with today. The meaning of his work and the symbolic codes he uses are products of his cultural background. Bulatov lived most of his life in Russia, only moving to Paris in 1991, and the emblems and typography of socialist glorification are unmistakable themes throughout his oeuvre.
Despite difficult working conditions, Bulatov did not emigrate, but continued to develop his work in Russia until the collapse of the Soviet Union, when he moved to France. Bulatov’s paintings can be situated in the realm of political art, despite their lack of unequivocal political or ideological messages. His particular modes of artistic expression are bound to a particular time and place, while also giving rise to multiple visual associations. It is characteristic of Bulatov’s manner of political commentary that he subversively unites opposing impulses.


CV
Erik Bulatov studied painting at the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow, graduating in 1958. He began working as a children’s book illustrator with friend and collaborator, Oleg Vassiliev for which he won numerous awards.
From June to October 2013 the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco honoured Erik Bulatov with a retrospective. Bulatov's works have appeared in nearly every important exhibition on 20th Century Russian Art, including “RUSSIA!” at the Guggenheim Museums in New York, USA (2005) and Bilbao, Spain (2006), and “Berlin- Moscow / Moscow-Berlin 1950–2000”, Tretyakow-Galerie, Moskau, Russia (2003), and Martin-Gropius- Bau, Berlin, Germany (2004), or „Traumfabrik Kommunismus. Die visuelle Kultur der Stalinzeit“, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt / Main, Germany (2003).
He was also featured at the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988) and the Third Moscow Biennale (2009). His solo exhibitions have appeared at mamco – Musee d’art moderne et contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland (2009/2010) and at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2007), at the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (2006), and the Tretyakow-Galerie, Moskau, Russia (2003 and 2006).


“The picture is different. It is the only reality I trust and believe. The world around us is too active, too unstable for us to maintain any true belief in it; everything is in a state of flux, everything is changing. Only the picture is immutable. “ Erik Bulatov, 1987

Erik Bulatov, Notre Temps Est Venu / Our Time has Come, mixed media on canvas, 200 x 200 cm | 78.74 x 78.74 in Erik Bulatov, Notre Temps Est Venu / Our Time has Come, mixed media on canvas, 200 x 200 cm | 78.74 x 78.74 in
Mär 1, 2013

Erik Bulatov - Our Time Has Come

Erik Bulatov, Notre Temps Est Venu / Our Time has Come, mixed media on canvas, 200 x 200 cm | 78.74 x 78.74 in Erik Bulatov, Notre Temps Est Venu / Our Time has Come, mixed media on canvas, 200 x 200 cm | 78.74 x 78.74 in

ERIK BULATOV - OUR TIME HAS COME
at ARNDT Berlin

8 March - 13 April 2013

ARNDT Berlin is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition featuring Erik Bulatov (born 1933 in Sverdlovsk, Russia). Please note that ARNDT Berlin will also be showing William Cordova (born 1971 in Lima, Peru) at the same time.

In celebration of his 80th birthday, ARNDT is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition presenting works by Erik Bulatov.

Erik Bulatov is one of the most important living artists from Russia and Eastern Europe. He numbers, along with Ilya Kabakov, among a small but significant group of Russian artists who, at a remove from the governmental regulations of the Soviet art system, attained completely independent forms of artistic expression.

The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco will honour the artist with a retrospective from June – October 2013.

His works have appeared in nearly every important exhibition on 20th century Russian art, including “RUSSIA!” at the Guggenheim Museums in New York (2005) and Bilbao (2006), and “Berlin-Moscow / Moscow-Berlin 1950–2000”, Tretyakow-Galerie, Moskau (2003), and Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2004), or „Traumfabrik Kommunismus. Die visuelle Kultur der Stalinzeit“, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt / Main (2003).
He was also featured at the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988) and the Third Moscow Biennale (2009). His solo exhibitions have appeared at mamco – Musee d’art moderne et contemporain in Geneva (2009/2010) and at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007), at the kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2006), and the Tretyakow-Galerie, Moskau (2003 and 2006).

Dez 12, 2011

Erik Bulatov "Paintings 1956-2011" Catalogue Raisonnée, vol. 1

Erik Bulatov "Paintings 1956-2011" Catalogue Raisonnée, vol. 1 Erik Bulatov "Paintings 1956-2011" Catalogue Raisonnée, vol. 1

The first catalogue raisonné of Erik Bulatov.
Published by Wienand Verlag GmbH, 2012
Edited by Matthias Arndt
Catalogue compiled by Kristin Rieber
Hardcover, ca. 256 pages, ca. 190 colour plates
With an essay by Evgeny Barabanov
ISBN 978-3-86832-073-2
English / Russian
Price 48,00 €

 

Jan 1, 2007

Erik Bulatov "Train-Train" 2007

Erik Bulatov, Train-Train, 2007 Erik Bulatov, Train-Train, 2007

This book was published on occasion of a solo presentation of Erik Bulatov at FIAC Art Fair 2007
Publisher: Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld 2007
Edited by Arndt & Partner Berlin / Zurich
Hardcover, half-linen, 52 pages, many colour plates
With a text by Erik Bulatov and an interview with the artist by Damien Sausset
ISBN: 978-3-86678-107-8
English/French
Price 20 €

Jan 1, 2009

Erik Bulatov "O" 2009

Erik Bulatov, O, 2009  Erik Bulatov, O, 2009

This book was published on occasion of Erik Bulatov's first solo exhibition in Berlin at Arndt & Partner.
Published by Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld 2009
Edited by Arndt & Partner Berlin / Zurich
Hardcover, half-linen, 72 pages, many colour plates
With an essay by Damien Sausset
ISBN 978-3-86678-234-1
German / English / Russian
Price 20 €

Nov 2, 2010

‚Contrepoint, l’art contemporain russe – De l’icône à l’avant-garde en passant par le musée’ group exhibition with Erik Bulatov at Musée du Louvre, Paris

Erik Bulatov, Liberté, Collection Oliver et Betrand Loquin, Photo: Jean-Alex Brunelle Erik Bulatov, Liberté, Collection Oliver et Betrand Loquin, Photo: Jean-Alex Brunelle

ERIK BULATOV is part of the exhibition “Contrepoint, l’art contemporain russe – De l’icône à l’avant-garde en passant par le musée” at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. The exhibition runs from 14 october 2010 to 31 January 2011.

Exhibitions

ERIK BULATOV - OUR TIME HAS COME

at ARNDT Berlin

8 March - 13 April 2013

ARNDT Berlin is pleased to present 'Our time has come', an exhibition of works by Erik Bulatov (born 1933 in Sverdlovsk, Russia). Please note that ARNDT Berlin is also showing works by William Cordova (born 1971 in Lima, Peru).

Erik Bulatov numbers among a small but significant group of Russian artists who, at a remove from the governmental regulations of the Soviet art system, attained completely independent forms of artistic expression. In honour of the artist’s 80th birthday, ARNDT is pleased to present a selection of his works from 1966 to 2010.

Bulatov’s drawings and paintings have an extraordinary coherence. His unique, stringent pictorial system was first expressed in his word pictures of the 1970s, where he analyzed the interplay of contrasting symbolic systems, such as language and images or abstraction and illusion – a theme he is still concerned with today. The meaning of his work and the symbolic codes he uses are products of his cultural background. Bulatov lived most of his life in Russia, only moving to Paris in 1991, and the emblems and typography of socialist glorification are unmistakable themes throughout his oeuvre. He attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and then the Surikov Art Institute between 1947 and 1958, but only fully developed his visual repertoire within the sphere of unofficial art and was almost entirely unexposed to new international artistic trends. Despite difficult working conditions, Bulatov did not emigrate, but continued to develop his work in Russia until the collapse of the Soviet Union, when he moved to France.
Bulatov’s paintings can be situated in the realm of political art, despite their lack of unequivocal political or ideological messages. His particular modes of artistic expression are bound to a particular time and place, while also giving rise to multiple visual associations. It is characteristic of Bulatov’s manner of political commentary that he subversively unites opposing impulses. His paintings leave the viewer undecided as to whether this is a relieved or a yearning look into the past and the defunct communist system. Bulatov can therefore be seen as one of the most important living artists from Russia and Eastern Europe.
Erik Bulatov’s works have appeared in nearly every important exhibition on 20th century Russian art, including “RUSSIA!” at the Guggenheim Museums in New York (2005) and Bilbao (2006), and “Berlin-Moscow / Moscow-Berlin 1950–2000”, Tretyakow-Galerie, Moskau (2003), and Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2004), or „Traumfabrik Kommunismus. Die visuelle Kultur der Stalinzeit“, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt / Main (2003). He was also featured at the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988) and the Third Moscow Biennale (2009). His solo exhibitions have appeared at mamco – Musee d’art moderne et contemporain in Geneva (2009/2010) and at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007), at the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2006), and the Tretyakow-Galerie, Moskau (2003 and 2006). The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco will honour the artist with a retrospective from June to October 2013.

30.04. - 31.05.2010
Changing The World

Erik Bulatov, Sophie Calle, William Cordova, Wim Delvoye, Anton Henning, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya und Emilia Kabakov, Jitish Kallat, Jon Kessler, Karsten Konrad, Julije Knifer, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Josephine Meckseper, Vik Muniz, Muntean Rosenblum, Julian Rosefeldt, Charles Sandison, Dennis Scholl, Nedko Solakov, Hiroshi Sugito, Ena Swansea, Mathilde Ter Heijne, Keith Tyson, Ralf Ziervogel...

Changing the World Changing the World

ARNDT will inaugurate its new exhibition space during the “Berlin Gallery Weekend“ (30 April to 2 May 2010) on Friday, 30 April, from 5 - 10 p.m. Located on Potsdamer Strasse 96 in Berlin, the opening exhibition will feature new works by the core gallery Located on the second floor of the „Wintergarten Varieté“, ARNDT’s future spaces will encompass almost 400 m2, including a ballroom dated from the 19th century with an original wooden coffered ceiling of 5 meter height as main exhibition and “Signature Space”. Berlin based Canadian Architect David Saik, designer of numerous projects for the arts, has been commissioned for the project. Saik’s recent completed work includes studios for the artists Jeff Wall and Steven Shearer.
artists as well as invited guests: Erik Bulatov, Sophie Calle, William Cordova, Wim Delvoye, Gilbert & George, Anton Henning, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya und Emilia Kabakov, Jitish Kallat, Jon Kessler, Vik Muniz, Muntean Rosenblum, Julian Rosefeldt, Nedko Solakov, Mathilde ter Heijne, Keith Tyson, Ralf Ziervogel and others.

““Changing The World” argues that it is possible to change the world and that we must continually search for and strive to achieve this. “Changing the World” also posits that art and artists have the means and the potential to bring about change in our world. Artists question the world we live in, they challenge the status quo and our conventions, think introspectively and conjure up brand-new, alternative worlds. Many recent exhibitions have explored artists’ relationships with the world, among them “Being in the World” (Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection – Cifo Miami, 2009/2010), “Fare Mundi/Making Worlds” (53rd Venice Biennial, 2009), “Weltempfänger/World Receiver” (Kunsthalle Hamburg, 2007/2008), and the upcoming group exhibition “Promesses du Passé/Promises from the past” (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 14 April to 19 July 2010).“ Art does not provide answers, it merely increases and refines the questions,” argued Jan Hoet in 1992 with his “documenta IX”. Like no other exhibition before it or since, the works of the artists opened the viewers’ eyes, stimulated, captivated and shocked their senses. It is this constant desire and courage to bring about change that I believe forms the common denominator and connection between even the most seemingly diverse artistic positions to which I dedicate my first exhibition.” Matthias Arndt
After pioneering in 1994, being the first commercial gallery with an international focus in former East Berlin, and after opening various gallery locations in Berlin Mitte over the past 16 years, Matthias Arndt positions himself for the first time in the former western part of Berlin, introducing at the same time a new vibrant art district to the international public.

To view a selection of the exhibited works, please click on the picture underneath.

Changing the World  Changing the World
Changing the World  Changing the World
Changing the World  Changing the World

27.01.–23.04.09
Erik Bulatov
Solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

Erik Bulatov, solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin Erik Bulatov, solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

When it comes to Erik Bulatov’s work, one of the most frequent errors of interpretation consists of perceiving him in terms of his nationality. He was of course born into the Soviet world; but his art transcends any such framework, and has done so since the start of his career, in the 1950s. His move to Europe, and more particularly to Paris in the early 1990s, accentuated this phenomenon, and his last works should not be seen as the culmination of an investigation carried out by an expatriate Russian artist, but as a receptiveness to new problematics on the part of a painter who unceasingly probes the question of pictorial space, and that of situating objects within it.

Je vis plus loin (ou Je continue à vivre) [I live farther away (or I continue to live), 2008] is without doubt the most classical among his recent paintings. Its composition and internal logic are of a piece with Bulatov’s work over recent years. In the background there is a landscape seen from above, including a vaguely meandering river. And standing out in front of them, deliberately asymmetrical, there is the simple statement: “Je continue à vivre.” As Bulatov says: “The phrase is taken from one of Vsevolod Nekrassov’s poems. In Russian, unlike other languages, it has two meanings. The first, and most obvious, is temporal. ‘I’m still alive.’ It’s an injunction, a way of recalling oneself to other people’s memories. The second, which is specific to the Russian world, introduces a notion of distance. ‘I’m not here, close to you, but farther off, elsewhere. I could be anywhere in this world, alive.’ It’s a way of indicating a displacement, and the possibility that I could live differently in a distant place. And this double meaning is the subject of the picture.”

This work would thus seem to deal with Bulatov himself. He lives in Paris, far from his culture of origin, and though he and his wife Natacha are lavish in their praise of the French capital, one can sense an undeniable nostalgia in him – not for Muscovite life, as such, but for a certain kind of relationship to other people. He misses Moscow for its promise of hours spent talking to his friends about anything and nothing. It is true that this kind of interpretation might be taken sim-ply as an indication of his attachment to a world he earlier fled, starved of recognition – the first retrospective of his work in Moscow took place only in 2006. But this distant statement addressed to his country goes beyond that. It makes the legibility of the work entirely conditional upon another sort of movement – one which can be evoked through the means of painting.

Two types of light enter into the composition. The first has to do with representation as such: landscape, clouds, and a sun that is hinted at in the upper right-hand corner. The second, which derives from our own universe, and from the viewer's space (but also that of the painter), irradiates the written words. The two are opposed, locked in struggle, as they define two distinct areas. And the composition contributes to this. As so often, Bulatov bases the tension on a double diagonal. Bulatov outlines his theory: “For a painting to succeed – for it to exist – requires more than for it to be lit from the interior. A source of light has to be represented in it. The painting must have its own source of light – a light that emanates from it – in order for light to flash out from it; otherwise it will be extinct, inert, on the surface; and nothing other than a pictorial layer will be seen.” But this condition can only be satisfied if a certain tension is created between the light that is inherent in the representation and another light, which comes directly from the viewer’s space (and is visible on the words, phrases, sentences). Often pure white, it reaffirms the flatness of the surface, while a composition based on a dynamic of diagonals projects the viewer into the space of the painting. In Je vis plus loin (ou Je continue à vivre), the swelling of the clouds traversing the sun contradicts the movement of the phrase, and yet the two movements are opposed to and at the same time still reconciled with one another.
In classical painting since the Renaissance, the diagonal – unlike the horizontal, which splits the image in two – has been used to create dynamics, notably when it moves upwards from left to right, thus following the natural direction of the eye. With Bulatov, the diagonal is not just an echo of classical compositions (as found, for example, in baroque figurations, or in dozens of representations of Saint George slaying the dragon), but also a more or less conscious reference to the principles of Suprematism and Constructivism. The diagonal serves to open up space, and to enter into it, while asserting the absolute planeness of the pictorial surface. Bulatov discovered this effect early on, in the 1950s, when composition was very much occupying his thoughts. Among his encounters with abstraction, the diagonal suggested itself as an effective means of structuring a picture. It was also, and above all, a violent reaction to the norms of official art, for which the dynamism displayed by this type of composition was suspect, in that it harked back to the avantgardist experimentations of the 1920s.


Damien Sausset (Excerpt from the author’s essay in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition (Erik Bulatov. O, KerberArt, Bielefeld, 2009, ISBN: 978-3-86678-234-1)