Sokov left the Soviet Union in 1980 and settled in the United States. Working in a new cultural context, he continued to use the symbols and images of the Soviet Union, but also included references to American culture in his work. The likeness of Marilyn Monroe, America’s sex symbol of the 1950s who continues to be a major icon in popular culture, is often found alongside Joseph Stalin, who is popular among many Russians even today.
The theme of the Yalta conference in the present work resonates with both the Russian and the American public, even if their assessment may differ. One of the three major wartime conferences between the Unites States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, it came to shape post-war Europe and indeed the world for the remainder of the 20th century.
Like his sculptures, Sokov’s paintings have a primitive, folk art aesthetic, which gives them a comical dimension central to the artist’s work as we see in the present depiction of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, gambling with the future of Europe, and also in the animals that symbolise the three countries the leaders represent.
During the Yalta conference it was declared that European countries had the right to establish their own democratic institutions. In particular, Poland was promised free election, a promise that would soon be broken by Stalin. While the English lion and the American eagle consent, the Russian bear shows its true intent by replying with the word ‘khui’, a commonplace of vulgar language which is usually translated as ‘dick’.
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