Escape Artists – The Non-Conformists Online

Escape Artists – The Non-Conformists Online

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 49. Russia.

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September 21, 01:48 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 GBP

Lot Details


Sergei Volokhov



signed in Cyrillic and dated 976 - 979 across the top of the two central parts

oil and tempera on canvas and plywood with wood and plaster in metal frames

Overall: 196 by 263cm, 77 by 103½in.

The artist
Galerie Sandmann, Berlin

Exhibition catalogue Labyrinth: neue Kunst aus Moskau, Hamburg: COCON, 1989, p.45 illustrated

Exhibition catalogue Sergej Volokhov. Dialoge 1960-2010, Braunschweig: Ruth, 2010, p.25 illustrated

Roseburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Wotersen Castle, Labyrinth: neue Kunst aus Moskau, 1989

Berlin, Galerie Sandmann, The Thaw and the Time After – Moscow Artists 1958-2008: Part II Komar & Melamid and Sergej Volokhov, 2009

Salzgitter, Kunstverein Salzgitter e.V., Sergej Volokhov. Dialoge 1960-2010, 8-29 August 2010

Two years after his graduation from the Moscow Pedagogical Institute in 1965, Sergei Volokhov exhibited at the Blue Bird (Sinyaya ptitsa) café alongside Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, future Sots Art pioneers. In 1968-1969 Volokhov worked at Vladimir Weisberg’s studio and in 1974 he was among the participants of the Bulldozer exhibition, a seminal event in the history of unofficial Soviet art.

Russia consists of 26 individual parts, with the overall composition reminiscent in its form of Orthodox hagiographical icons. The central image shows the body of a pregnant woman curled up over a map of the Soviet Union, surrounded by light bulbs and pages from the Soviet constitution, alluding to Lenin’s famous 1920 slogan ‘Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country’. With words including ‘fear’, ‘government’ and ‘vanity’ surrounding the harrowing central image, the work acts as a contemplation on the fate of the Bolsheviks’ utopian ideas.

In its aesthetic and the questions it addresses, Russia can be compared to Komar and Melamid’s iconic The History of the USSR from the mid-1970s. Yet, unlike the infamous Sots Art duo, who emigrated from the Soviet Union shortly after completing the work, Volokhov remained in the country throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He was forced to hide Russia from the Soviet authorities for several years, until it was exhibited at Wotersen Castle in Germany in 1989. Russia was subsequently shown at Galerie Sandmann in Berlin in 2009 and at Volokhov’s retrospective exhibition at the Kunstverein Salzgitter in Germany in 2010.