new-york

Oleg Vassiliev; Erik Bulatov

Phyllis Kind Gallery

The work of Erik Bulatov and Oleg Vassiliev lost much of its urgency with the dawn of freedom; the moral impetus that had been its primary interest in the pre-Glasnost period seemed to give way, post-1988, to self-conscious formalism. It was as if only their impeccable technique could hold onto viewers uninterested in and unacquainted with the difficult circumstances their art had previously resisted. As those Soviet structures disappeared, Bulatov became often banal, and Vassiliev, kitschy and sentimental. Both artists settled in the West—Bulatov in Paris, Vassiliev in New York—and there seemed to be ample evidence that their work was going to be permanently marked with the apologetic unimportance of immigrant disengagement. This winter, back-to-back one-man shows demonstrated clearly that each artist had transcended his new circumstances to make work of unimpeachably high standards.

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