Property from a Private Collection, New York
each signed in Cyrillic and dated 89 l.r.
colored pencil over pencil on paper
Each sheet: 11 by 16½in., 28 by 42cm
Framed: 22¾ by 20¼in., 58 by 51.5cm
The works are executed on two separate sheets which show minor creasing throughout. The right edges of both sheets are slightly undulating. The sheets have discolored and there is faint mount staining along all the edges. There is some incipient foxing in places, most notably to the 'T' of the top work. The sheets are hinged to the mount in the corners and are held together in a simple wooden frame behind Perspex.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
After graduating from the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow in 1958, Bulatov pursued a successful career as a children’s books illustrator, discretely working on his own projects. His involvement in the Sots-art movement in the late 1980s earned him the moniker the ‘artist of perestroika’, whose work symbolized the advent of a new era in Russian art.
Executed in 1989, the present lot belongs to a series of works dedicated to the subject of perestroika – the political and economic reforms implemented by Mikhail Gorbachev and meant to kickstart the stagnant economy of the Soviet Union. Bulatov’s painting is simultaneously a tribute to perestroika and a definitive statement of perestroika’s inescapably Communist nature. Although associated with great expectations for radical changes in the society, the movement remained fundamentally Soviet in its methods and vocabulary.
One of the eminent features of Bulatov’s art is the superimposition of text on illusionistic space and realistic scenes, as can be seen in Perestroika. The presence of text in this work evokes immediate associations with Soviet propaganda posters and banners and alludes to the government’s oppressive power over society. As Bulatov has explained, ‘Soviet ideology completely distorted our whole life. And this distorted space, full of ideology, became ordinary, customary and normal… Therefore, in my pictures, I tried to show that this kind of normality is not normal’.