monte carlo: erik bulatov - paintings + drawings 1966-2013

© collection centre pompidou, paris / erik bulatov - entrance-no entrance [1974-1975] - oil on canvas

erik bulatov is a key figure in contemporary russian art who, quite interestingly, managed to get round the constraints of official soviet art by developing an artistic vocabulary all his own. opening on fri- jun 28 at the nouveau musée national de monaco is a retrospective of the russian artist's paintings and drawings dating from 1966 to the present. bulatov's paintings are mostly iconoclastic assemblies in which image and language are linked. even in landscapes, portraits and cityscapes he uses both the iconography of the soviet regime. yet despite these references, the question of personal freedom is the fundamental concept in bulatov's art.

the choice of colours, geometric compositions and the use of images from films, art history or advertising very much define his visual language. the typography of the words and their meanings play a crucial role in the spatial composition of his paintings. the starting point of bulatov's work is constructivism, and his paintings are inspired by this dynamic graphic style invented in 1920s russia by the avant-garde movement. an interestung edge to this show is the fact that the nouveau musée national de monaco has chosen to put bulatov's works of in correspondence with drawings by american artist ed ruscha.

the use of text is a recurrent element in the compositions of both artists, formed by words that exist simultaneously as linguistic and visual signs. the painting is read through the text, which determines or inflects its meaning. the two artists, despite seeming opposed to each other, have opened figurative painting to the visual and semantic poetry of words by combining the two in an immediately recognisable manner. location: nouveau musée national de monaco, villa paloma, 56 boulevard du jardin exotique [la colle].

© collection e. and v. semenikhin, moscow / erik bulatov - wanderer [1993] and moscow window [1995] - both oil on canvas