An influential leader of the unofficial art movement, his imagery revolves around the conflict between surfaces and space as a reflection of the genuine conflict between Soviet reality and ideology, truth and falsehood, freedom and fear. He would create illusory objects, placing them in an illusory expanse – in this case, Lenin. Painted in the plain reds and blues so characteristic of Bulatov, the poster sparks all of these tensions with the added dimension of historical perspective which the contemporary viewer now brings to the painting, an additional quarter century of experience to that of the old lady passing by. This pivotal moment in time held all the promise of another structure, the alternative and possible way out which Bulatov had lamented:
‘I think that the worst thing that Soviet propaganda has done, forgetting the lies and the nonsense, is to have persisted in brainwashing us into believing that the social world we inhabit is the only reality. There is nothing else. Whether you like it or not, you have to adapt yourself. This is the way it is. Possibly there is another structure, beyond the borders, which is hostile to us. For years they inculcated in us the idea that there is no alternative, that the whole world is a prison, that there is no possibility of escape and that it has always been like that. Therefore art became a necessity for me, as it offered a possible way out.’ (E.Bulatov, Adaptation of Negation and Socialist Realism, Ridgefield, 1990).
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