EDUARD GOROKHOVSKY | GROUP PORTRAIT IN AN INTERIOR
Property from a Private Collection, Germany
GROUP PORTRAIT IN AN INTERIOR
signed in Cyrillic and dated 83 l.r.; further signed, titled, inscribed and dated on the reverse
oil on canvas
Canvas: 133 by 193cm, 52¼ by 76in.
Please note: Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
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Original canvas, which is attached to a stretcher which has warped. There is a small canvas patch securing a very small repaired tear in the lower left corner as viewed from the reverse. This corresponds to a thin line of paint loss to the white area with the signature. There is a small hole to the canvas in the very top right corner. There are a few punctures, scuff marks and surface scratches with some minor losses to the centre of the right edge, a few scratches below Chuikov's right hand, a scratch to the centre of the left edge, as well as some faint scratches elsewhere. The surface is covered in an uneven layer of varnish which has discoloured. There is a layer of surface dirt with a few stains in places, most notably to the white areas in the two lower corners. Inspection under UV light does not reveal any obvious signs of retouching. Unframed.
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.
Acquired directly from the artist
Group Portrait in an Interior is an intimate portrait of a tightly-knit group of friends and key figures among the Moscow Non-conformists. It depicts from top left to right: Nina Gorokhovskaya, Garik Basmadjian, Ilya Kabakov and Galina Chuikova, and from bottom left to right, Viktor Pivovarov, Viktoria Mochalova and Ivan Chuikov.
As one of the pioneers of Soviet photo-based art, the photographic portrait is central to Gorokhovsky’s painting, both in terms of technique and subject. He made use of silk-screen prints, serial images and painted copies of photographs as a way of exploring layers of reality and identity. He also took historical photographic portraits as his subject as a way of poignantly documenting individuals and dignifying their individual lived experiences. providing a contrast with the mass-reproduced images of idealised non-people and their leaders of state propaganda.
The portrait in this catalogue is explicitly not painted from life but is a painting of a photographic portrait, thereby adding an additional layer between the viewer and the subject. The distance is not just physical but temporal too, it has the appearance of a hand-coloured black and white print, bleached by sunlight over many years, historicising the sitters. This is not portraiture as revelation, as a window on to the souls of the sitters, but portraiture as myth-making – a quality and intention it shares with the imagery of state propaganda.
The interior setting is itself as significant as the sitters for the Moscow apartment was the specific milieu of the Soviet intelligentsia. The Moscow apartment interior was to the Non-conformists what the café was to the Vienna Secession. It was a safe, if claustrophobic, space to share ideas and hold artistic debates and, after the Bulldozer exhibition of 1974 apartment exhibitions were the only way they could show their work. In the conceptual installations of Ilya Kabakov the kommunalka became his theatrical stage set and would be elevated to the status of metaphor for the Soviet Union.