At Portikus, Erik Bulatov, in his very first solo exhibition, is introduced to a broader audience. 12 works, some in very large formats, give a comprehensive view of his work of the past 20 years, and a preview of the Moscow art-scene which is still barely known.

Isolated from all Western art developments, Erik Bulatov has created an independent form of expression by subtly transforming the officially propagated Socialist Realism in style and content. He often combines realistic illustrations with personal and political slogans that either increase the illusion of depth in the pictorial space or prevent it. The inordinately large typography, which seems to be taken from political propaganda banners, stresses the messages and gives them a generally binding force. There is a peculiar tension between image and text, as they question each other instead of - as usual - being unambiguous and interpreting each other.

Bulatov's investigation into certain languages and sign systems goes beyond postmodern playing about, as he does not use just any forms of expression, but those that simultaneously embody the fixed ideological norms in his social surroundings. He points to the limits of the language systems used and at the same time makes evident the fictitiousness and fragility of the visible world.

After perestroika and glasnost have, until now, mainly affected the cultural sphere and led to a mercantile dynamization of artistic production in Moscow, it seems important, in view of the opening of the Soviet Union now expected, to not only provide information via solo exhibitions, but to set standards of value and give orientation. Erik Bulatov, like his close friend Ilya Kabakov who will exhibit here in October (parallel to the book fair), belongs to a small but tenacious group of independent artists. Without their pioneering work, the current regeneration of the Moscow art scene would be completely inconceivable. The clarity of Bulatov's artistic position, the honesty and sincerity of his works make him a convincing representative of contemporary Soviet painting.

Short biography
Erik Bulatov was born in 1933 in Swerdlowsk. He moved to Moscow in 1936. 1947-58 art academy in Moscow and Surikow. Since then he lives and works in Moscow. His work as an illustrator secures his living and his membership in the artists' association. As unofficial artist he was, until recently, hardly able to exhibit or sell his works; but this has changed.