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Exit – Exit

Erik Bulatov December 06, 2023 - January 18, 2024 pop/off/art, Moscow

About project

pop/off/art gallery presents a personal exhibition of Erik Bulatov, one of the main authors of Russian contemporary art, with whom pop/off/art cooperates since its foundation in 2004. The project timed to Erik Bulatov’s 90-th anniversary will become the very first gallery exhibition of his works in Russia. Previously pop/off/art gallery performed as a partner of his biggest museum projects, including the retrospective “Erik Bulatov. I live – I see” (2014, The Manege Central Exhibition Hall, curator: Sergey Popov), worked with his archive and provided a number of artworks from private collections for exhibitions.

In the “Exit – Exit” exposition for the first time both for Russian and foreign spectators more than 20 Erik Bulatov’s graphic sheets of the period 2017-2022 will be demonstrated. They appear as largest graphic works ever created by Bulatov and continue his elaboration of the themes of flatness and space of a painting. Thus, color palette of these works is limited to red and black, where the former symbolizes the surface closest to the observer and the latter – the compositional depth

Project title originates from the phrase “Exit – Exit” employed in the central group of artworks of the exposition. Serving as the fundamental element, this text establishes visual and semantic sequence: “Forward”, “Everything is not that scary”, “Friend suddenly enemy”, “Exit ­– Exit”. Chronologically last sheet “Know not what we do” (2022) appeals to the biblical proverb and mirrors artist’s reaction to current political events. The expression “Exit – Exit” refers to Erik Bulatov’s key work “Entrance – no entrance” (1974-1975, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France), and the title “Dangerous” – to another crucial piece, “Dangerous” (1972-1973, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA). In addition, graphic sheet “Forward” is a sketch for eponymous painting (2016, Tate Modern, London, UK) and is connected with his same-name sculpture (2016). Another group of works represented in the project refers to the homonymous sculpture “Everything is not that scary” (2019).

In context of Erik Bulatov’s exhibition “Exit – Exit” the space of the gallery will be curatorially reconsidered and subordinated to compositional and coloristic logic of graphics. Another event planned for the project is the publication of the catalogue containing 2023 interview with the artist and a text by Igor Chubarov, philosopher, famous art researcher and author of the book “Collective sensuality. Theories and practices of the left avant-garde” (Moscow, Higher School of economics, 2014).

Erik Bulatov is one of the key figures of Russian contemporary art, one of the reformers of painting in the second half of XX century. His formation and prominence in 1960 – 1980-s are linked with the circle of non-conformism, “other art”, where he was perceived as one of the authorities along with Ilya Kabakov, Oleg Vasiliev and others. Bulatov’s name is often placed in the base of such stylistic movements as pop-art, social art and photorealism, but, evidently, his creativity extends far beyond them. Extraordinary combination of mastership and analytics has made Bulatov’s art recognizable throughout the world – among the first contemporary Russian artists.

Erik Bulatov was born on the 5th of September, 1933, in Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg), where his father was directed for work for a while. Bulatov is a Muscovite, his family returned to the capital in 1936, where he had been living since then (from 1989 to 1991 had been living in New York, from 1991 until now ­– mainly in Paris). Between 1952 and 1958 studies in Moscow State Surikov Academy of Fine Arts. During 1950-s regularly communicates with Robert Falk and Vladimir Favorsky, who he perceives as his teachers. From 1965 – member of The Artists’ Union of the USSR (as an illustrator of children’s books on which he works in co-authorship with Oleg Vasiliev). His artworks were hardly exhibited in the USSR (1964 – exhibition in the Kurchatov Institute was closed immediately by the government, 1968 – daylong exhibition in the Bluebird Café). First personal exhibition took place in 1988 in the Center of Fine Arts in Zurich, soon after – in the National Georges Pompidou Centre of Art and Culture (first among Russian contemporaries). Bulatov is a participant of the Venice Biennale, the Gwangju Biennale (1997, award). Lives and works in Paris.

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