Evgeny Rukhin (1943 ― 1976), an extraordinarily prolific Nonconformist artist, showed the willingness and strength to defend his artistic expression during his short but inspiring career. A Leningrad artist, Rukhin produced work that abruptly challenged Socialist Realism while staging controversial events such as the Bulldozer Exhibition (1974) with fellow artist and friend, Oscar Rabine.
This underground exhibition was violently broken up by police and less than two years later Rukhin died in his sleep in a fire allegedly ignited by the KGB amid efforts to force him into conformity.
In 1966, when Rukhin was just twenty three, his work was received by the prestigious Betty Parson’s Gallery in New York, alongside artists such as Pollock, Newman, Rothko and Rauschenberg. Although Rukhin’s abstractions and morose grey-brown palette placed him effortlessly in accord with the American artists, Rukhin can never be considered anything other than Russian. As his assemblages emerged in 1968, Rukhin overlaid elements of Russian antiquity such as icons, furniture and even manholes, into thickly coated surfaces that speak of his heritage. Despite his cultural profundity, the artist’s legacy has yet to infiltrate Russia but remains abroad in collections such as Norton Dodge.