November 17, 2007 - The State Tretyakov Gallery - Olga Bulgakova and Alexander Sitnikov at The State Tretyakov Gallery
November 17, 2007

Olga Bulgakova and Alexander Sitnikov at The State Tretyakov Gallery

Olga Bulgakova. # 9 from the series Matriarhat. 2007.
Oil on canvas. 140 x 140 cm.
Alexander Sitnikov. Kassandra. 1966.
Oil on wood. 41 x 37 cm

Olga Bulgakova and Alexander Sitnikov.
Paintings and Objects

November 1 – 25 2007

The State Tretyakov Gallery
Krymsky Val 10
Moscow, Russia

The State Tretyakov Gallery and the Kolodzei Art Foundation present the exhibition Olga Bulgakova and Alexander Sitnikov. Paintings and Objects. Olga Bulgakova and Alexander Sitnikov belong to the generation of artists beginning in the 1970s. Their works have been exhibited widely in Russia, Europe and the United States and are in the permanent collections of major museums, including the State Russian Museum and the State Tretyakov Gallery. This is the first joint retrospective exhibition for the couple. This exhibition is accompanied by two catalogues.

The exhibition presents Alexander Sitnikov’s works for the past 40 years. Sitnikov continuously experiments by searching for new forms of self-expression and themes in a socio-cultural environment. His paintings are metaphoric; he pays special attention to the game with the spectator and with forms of painting, creating an intellectual platform with humanitarian signs and symbols of civilization.

Before Sitnikov concentrated on expressiveness of colors and abstract paintings, his main themes were lyrical works, expressing his civic position in the spirit of 1960s in Russia. Starting from the end of 1970s, the dramaturgy of color became one of the important means of expression. The combination of heavily layered bright colors gave an insightful, auxiliary effect. Sitnikov combines his skills of plastic language with irreal images, accenting human experiences, creating intellectual space.

Music is the integral inspiration for Sitnikov in the series Concerto. Geometrical and amorphous forms confines a juxtaposition of intensive colors, and powerful splashes of paint interplay within the structure of painting surface, highlighting the transformed human body and the keyboard. It creates a human drama, dichotomy and a discord between the power of creative spirit and fragile human soul. The paintings are dedicated to the composer Dmitri Shostakovich, symbolizing the struggle for creativity in Russia.

Sitnikov uses metaphors and mythology (with cultural or literary references) which emerge from the history of modern Russia. In a recent series, Native Speech, Sitnikov creates three-dimensional constructive compositions, influenced by the suprematist and constructivist movements of the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, updated by reflecting on events in modern Russia. Sitnikov uses red, black and white along with a circle, a square, a cross, a sickle, and a hammer, which bear the implied connotation, a vertical line-authority, horizontal line-society. The vanity and tragedy of the world is counterbalanced by the harmony of hope and love. Sitnikov’s works appeal on both analytical and emotional levels while illuminating many aspects of human experience. The various combinations-of traditional and innovative plastic language, emotional and rational, pagan and Christian, subject and non-objectivity, abstract and real-speak to
today’s viewer.

The exhibition presents Olga Bulgakova’s artworks of different periods and traces all aspects of development and exploration of the artist, beginning from the themes of theatrical characters, up to the abstract series and cycles Names, Matriarchy and Bible Sketches. Her early works are richly filled with allegoric, metaphorical images searching for a code of visual language-allegories, transformations, and allusions-in a desire to tell more than what is noticeable at first sight. In her complex-built paintings, Bulgakova gives a great importance to fine details, executed with artistic meticulousness. The plastic language of the artist and the attitude toward subject and details becomes more varied. Bulgakova goes through an internally reflected cycle, from the detailed surface through fading and disappearance of a subject, before its occurrence in new a quality, brought in by new experiences.

Rich in imagery, Bulgakova’s works as a stop action frame capture a moment in a constant transformation of the Universe. Combining elements of symbolism and surrealism, Bulgakova constructs her paintings on the intensity of coexistence of opposite extremes and remains open to a multiplicity of interpretations, and reflect her own personal philosophy and private world.

Combinations of elegant fine details, textures, and elements of game, use of symbols, interaction of color and surprising imagination of the artist contributes to the unique character of her painting from the 1970s through the 1990s.

Bulgakova’s internal experiences and her own reconsideration of positions led to significant changes in her works starting at the end of the 1990s. Figurative elements are minimalized before fully disappearing in an abstract cycle. Eventually abstract experiences of the artist are transformed and the circle appears in a cycle of works Archaisms. Later the circle is reincarnated in a powerful plastic sign in the series Names. The Name as a symbol archetype appears already in the new quality, executed in color contrasts, expressive powerful brush strokes, simultaneously personifying concrete and infinite.

In her latest series, Bulgakova addresses the biblical theme of Return of the Prodigal Son (2007). Connecting abstract symbols and figurative elements, Bulgakova unites the creative explorations of last decades. Her art searches are very organic, as the primary motif is the internal need for the creativity which gives rise to an emotional condition, ultimately realized in paintings.

In conjunction with this exhibition, Olga Bulgakova (ISBN: 9780975482964) and Alexander Sitnikov (ISBN: 9780975482988) have been published in both English and Russian languages. These books include essays by Alexander Borovsky, Barbara Thiemann, Natalia Kolodzei, Alexander Rozhin and Natalia Sitnikova.

For information and images, please contact:
Natalia Kolodzei – Kolodzei Art Foundation, Inc. (USA) Tel. 1-732-545-8425; Fax: 1-732-545-8428 Moscow 7-495-952-0277

The Kolodzei Art Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public non-profit organization founded in 1991, organizes exhibitions in museums and cultural centers in the United States, Russia and Europe, publishes books and catalogues on Russian art, and conducts Russian-American cultural exchanges.

The State Tretyakov Gallery
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