12 October 2015
Portraits of the CPSU Politburo Members, from the installation "The Secret Files", installation with nine works, each signed and dated 2001, also further signed, titled in Cyrillic, numbered "a/p 2/3" and dated on the reverse.
Each photograph and acrylic on paper, laid on foam board, 104 by 80 cm (overall size).
Each hand-coloured photograph is an artist’s proof No. 2 from the edition of three.
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Important private collection, Belgium.
Authenticity certificate from the artist.
The works from a from a Belgian collection of contemporary art, which are offered at auction, include pieces by important artists of the post-Soviet period (1990s and early 2000s). The collection came about as the result of trips made to Russia in 1992–1995 by an art collector who was keen to witness the changes that were happening in the country after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the USSR. He recalls now that freedom and the expectation of changes for the better felt in the very air of the Russian capital at the time. He wanted to see how the most progressive (in his view) Russian artists had reflected this great rift in their country’s history in their work. Thus arose this collection of works by artist-contemporaries of Russia’s transformation.
Cult Russian artists who had already come to prominence in the 1960s–1970s, and whose work is represented in the collection, include Erik Bulatov, Arkady Petrov and Natalia Nesterova. Others in the collection who defined the spirit of the 1990s and spurred the development of Russian contemporary art include Avdei Ter-Oganian, Valery Koshlyakov and Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe. Works by these artists are held in several important museum collections.
Erik Bulatov, one of the originators of Sots Art, is represented by a delicate minimalist piece executed in a simple, almost careless style that contrasts with his large-scale slogan paintings. Titled Self-Portrait, this work certainly relates to the artist’s own persona and offers a fascinating interplay of image and technique.
Arkady Petrov and Leonid Purygin are often classified as primitivists and are known for their “kitsch” paintings and conscious borrowings from the images of primitive art. Their instantly recognisable works are executed with remarkable care and peopled with mythical heroes.
The oeuvre of Natalia Nesterova, well-known since the 1970s, can be divided into several periods, starting from socialist genre works and moving later to ancient cities and city parks as preferred themes. Her passionate and expressive paintings, filled with images of everyday life, charm the viewer with their spontaneity and sensuality.
The collection also contains an important series of works by Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe entitled The Secret Files, consisting of photo portraits of members of the CPSU Politburo that have been hand-coloured by the artist. Mamyshev-Monroe’s oeuvre critically reviewed the very idea of history in a country that had changed so radically during Perestroika. These portraits of the Soviet political elite, metamorphosed by the artist into portraits of ladies with make-up and hairdos, are full of irony, grotesquerie and humour, which are characteristic features of this artist’s work.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.