(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.     Berlin                                                  

      E-E Evgenij Kozlov: Exhibitions

Young Unknowns Gallery

7 Independent Artists
Live from Leningrad

Research and text: Hannelore Fobo, 2018
Feb 2nd - 27th, 1988

co-curated by Peter Sylveire

Sergei Bugaev, Timur Novikov, Oleg Kotelnikov, Ivan Sotnikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Andrey Krisanov, Andrey Klobystin, Georgy Gurianov, Inal Savchenkov, Igor Potapov, Irena Kuksenaite, Evgenij Kozlov

Page 1: Introduction and Works Displayed

Page 2: Exhibition Catalogue >>

Page 3: Press Release and Press Review >>

Page 4: About the "Young Unknowns Gallery" >>

Page 1: Introduction and Works Displayed
Flyer with a work by Andrey Krisanov

Introduction: Some Problems Concerning the Lineup of Artists and the Authorship of the Exhibits.

Research and text: Hannelore Fobo, 2018

In 1985, London based artist Peter Sylveire "converted an empty tailor shop in a Waterloo High Street" thus founding the Young Unknowns Gallery, a non-commercial gallery which he run until 1991. More about the gallery >>
During a visit to Leningrad in 1987, Peter Sylveire was introduced to Timur Novikov by Andrew Logan. Through Timur, Peter also met with Sergei Bugaev, and the three agreed on an exhibition of the New Artists, which took place the following year.

The catalogue presents the exhibition in the following way: This exhibition has been prepared by the Fine Art section of the Club of Friends of Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsy – the 'New Artists'.

The Club of Friends of Vladimir Mayakovsky, founded in 1986 with Sergei Bugaev as president and Timur Novikov as vice-president, was actually a hypostasis of the New Artists. It had several sections, all dominated by the New Artists, and a fictitious number of additional members.

Following its foundation, the name Club of Friends of Vladimir Mayakovsky (Клуб друзей В.В. Маяковского, Klub druziei V.V.Mayakovskogo, also translated as Mayakovsky Friends Club), appeared in some exhibition titles in place of or additionally to the New Artists. Bugaev and Novikov signed their contributions to the exhibition catalogue with their respective Club functions.

More about the New Artists >>
More about the Club of Friends of Vladimir Mayakovsky or Mayakovsky Friends Club >>

The press release for "Seven Independent Artists from Leningrad" more >> lists the following seven artists:

    Inal Savchenkov, Sergei Bugaev, Oleg Kotelnikov, Timur Novikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Vladislav Gutsevich, and Yevgeny Koslow (Evgenij Kozlov).

In contrast, the cover of the exhibition's typescript catalogue lists twelve names – six of the seven mentioned above (without Vladislav Gutsevich), plus Ivan Sotnikov, Andrey Krisanov, Andrey Khlobystin, Georgy Gurianov, Igor Potapov, and Irena Kuksenaite more >>Those of Irena Kuksenaite and Evgenij Kozlov were added to the other ten in handwriting. Igor Potapov is one of Timur Novikov's pseudonyms, which reduces the list to eleven. The same names also appear with the short biographies in pages 5-7 of the catalogue. Accordingly, the catalogue cover carries a simplified title: “Independent Artists Live from Leningrad".

Yet it is highly improbable that all of these eleven artists actually displayed their works at the Young Unknowns Gallery. Several years ago, Peter Sylveire gave London gallerist Anya Stonelake nineteen pictures of the exhibition, and Anya kindly forwarded them to me. Peter Sylveire, whom I first met in 2014, allowed me to publish them in this page together with other documents he had given me earlier. One of these pictures shows the interior of the gallery; each of the other eighteen pictures presents a single work.

In case these eighteen pictures represent the entire exhibition, the lineup of artists becomes much shorter than the catalogue suggests. With the help of artist and art historian Andrey Khlobystin – who was happy to recognise several of his works – and relying on my own expertise, I was able to establish the following lineup:

    Timur Novikov, Sergei Bugaev, Oleg Kotelnikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Inal Savchenkov, Georgy Guryanov, two unidentified works signed GUB (perhaps faking paintings by Guryanov and carried out by Timur Novikov and Ivan Sotnikov), and one work that might have been a joint work by several artists, perhaps including Andrey Krisanov.

The question regarding picture 19, the gallery view, is somewhat more complicate. It isn't clear whether it shows other (additional) exhibits by the Leningrad artists, or whether the works displayed belong to the gallery's "regular" exhibition. None of the pieces could be been identified as a work by a New artist.

The confusion increases when we take a look at the lineup of exhibitors in Ksenia Novikova's New Artists "Chronicle", published on page 277 of the exhibition catalogue "The New Artists", Moscow (2012). It consists of ten names – nine, if we exclude Igor Potapov –, leaving out Oleg Kotelnikov and Ivan Sotnikov. Yet a work by Oleg Kotelnikov can be identified in the pictures below.

If we compare the eighteen pictures with the seven names printed on the "7 Artists" flyer, we are definitely missing works by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov and most probably by Vladislav Gutsevich (unless Gutsevich is the author of the work signed "GUB”). With regard to the twelve names in the catalogue, we furthermore notice the absence of works by Ivan Sotnikov, Irena Kuksenaite, and Andrey Krisanov. Strangely enough, Andrey Krisanov's works printed in the flyer was not part of the exhibition.

Quite obviously, the flyer and the catalogue were published at different moments or even independently of each other. On the other hand, there is no strict correlation between the exhibits and any of the printed materials. Such discrepancies also appear with other New Artists exhibitions, even when they took place at official institutions. One striking example is The New from Leningrad at the Kulturhuset, Stockholm, August 1988, with Kozlov's painting "Timur on Horseback" on the cover of the catalogue, but not included in the exhibition more>> .

The reasons for such disparities must be considered separately for each exhibition. Among them were difficulties in communicating across the border, spontaneous decisions on the Leningrad side, a gallery’s lack of space to display all works it received, and parallel exhibitions to which some works were sent instead. Last but not least, unorthodox ways of getting artwork out of the Soviet Union also played a role. Lucy Williams, who co-curated the show together with Peter Sylveire, wrote me that the works were smuggled out from Russia in a van, and that during the exhibition, none of the artists was present.

The absence of artists explains why there are no artist names in the articles that appeared in the press. Furthermore, the works themselves were displayed without name tags, something that all three reviews more>> were paying attention to. Here are the relevant sentences:

    "Collectively presented without individual artist's names attached” (Time Out)
    “The twelve painters belong to an unrecognised collective called The New Painters. So the paintings can neither reveal the artists' names nor be sold.” (The Independent)
    "The groups rigorous collective spirit – no individual name tags on the works.” (City Limits)

Stressing the "collective" aspect of the works, the reviews draw on the catalogue text written by Bugaev and Novikov "…the numerous joint works allow us to present a unified exhibition, without the need to divide the work according to the artist. This is a COLLECTIVE exhibition […] They [the artists] do not strive to develop individual methods or style.“ more >>

Yet the pictures below demonstrate that at least part of the works were signed on the front – those by Andrey Khlobystin and Timur Novikov, for instance –, but they were signed in Cyrillic. Without knowledge of Russian, this wouldn't help visitors to find out who created them.

Another fact stands in contrast to Bugaev's and Novikov's bold statement of “a unified exhibition, without the need to divide the work according to the artist”. The press release enclosed a reproduction of the work "Traditional Russian Folk Woman" by 'Afrika', who, earlier in the text, was identified as "Sergei Bugaev a.k.a. Afrika". In other words, Bugaev and Novikov, rejecting the need "to divide the work according to the artist”, featured Bugaev's work under his artist name as an example of the collective exhibition. Instead, we should have expected a work by an anonymous author. Besides, among the eighteen reproductions, the only one recalling a traditional Russian folk woman is no 7 – a work by Oleg Kotelnikov.

A claim made in the text fragment quoted above is actually quite misleading: the claim of the presence of “numerous joint works”. The majority of works display a distinct individual style: among the eighteen works documented, twelve were created by no more than one artist. The other six works might be the result of a collaboration; besides, not all artists participated in such activities to the same degree, and some, like Georgy Guryanov, never – at least to my knowledge.

These notes are in no way diminishing the achievements of the Young Unknowns Gallery, whose curators invested a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the first exhibition of the New Artists in London. The information they provided was accurate to the extent they received it correctly.

With the exception of no 13, all works are documented at the exhibition "DaDa Majakowsky" (25 March - 8 April 1988), Dionysus Gallery, Rotterdam, which used the same motif for the flyer more>>. After Rotterdam, nos 4, 7, and 16, as well as no 13, were also exhibited at "De Nya från Leningrad", Kulturhuset, Stockholm (27 August- 25 September). more>>

Hannelore Fobo, December 2018
Last updated 12 November 2020


Timur Novikov. Signed.


Unsigned; possibly Timur Novikov


Unisigned; possibly Timur Novikov or Sergei Bugaev or both


Unsigned; possibly Sergei Bugaev (stencilled figures) and Oleg Kotelnikov (drawings)


Unsigned; possibly Vadim Ovchinnikov


Andrey Khlobystin "Spring", approx. 100 x 50 cm.


Oleg Kotelnikov. Unsigned.

The press release enclosed a reproduction of the work "Traditional Russian Folk Woman" by 'Afrika'– possibly Oleg Kotelnikov's collage on textile. In the same text, 'Afrika' was identified as "Sergei Bugaev a.k.a. Afrika"


The letters forming the signature of this and the following paintings are ГУБ, or GUB in Latin, and the works are dated 83.

None of the New Artists used theses initials. However, if the last of the three letters was originally a Г / G, then – according to Andrey Khlobystin – the signature may stand for GUG or GUryanov Georgy. It is well known that at around 1983, Timur Novikov and Ivan Sotnikov painted works in Guryanov's name in order to fake his participation at the TEII exhibitions. The reason was that Guryanov, who had no official job, was risking of being accused of parasitism. Yet Guryanov's name never appeared in any of the TEII exhibitions.

Another possibility – again according to Andrey Khlobystin – is that these two works were ascribed to Igor Potapov, the mythical figure and art critic invented by Timur Novikov

Finally, the signature GUB, when read backwards – BUG – presents the first three letters of Sergei Bugaev's last name. Seen in this light, “GUB” might have been one of Bugaev's jokes to to multiply his artistic persona.


See information about picture 8


Andrey Khlobystin "Zanzibar". Signed


Unsigned. Inal Savchenkov.


Andrey Khlobystin. (signed)


Unsigned. Possibly Sergei Bugaev or collaborative work


Unsigned. Georgy Guryanov.


Timur Novikov CCCP (USSR). Signed


Timur Novikov “Rocket”. Signed.


Unsigned. Possibly Sergei Bugaev, or a collaboration of various artists: Sergei Bugaev with Andrey Krisanov, Timur Novikov and other artists


Georgy Guryanov. Unsigned.



Page 1: Introduction and Works Displayed

Page 2: Exhibition Catalogue >>

Page 3: Press Release and Press Review >>

Page 4: About the "Young Unknowns Gallery" >>

Uploaded December 2018
Last updated 2 Octobert 2020