Yevgeny Rukhin, a prolific Nonconformist artist, showed the willingness and strength to defend his artistic expression during his short career. A Leningrad artist, Rukhin produced work that abruptly challenged Social Realism while staging controversial events such as the Bulldozer Exhibition (1974) with fellow artist and friend, Oscar Rabine. Less than two years after this underground exhibition was violently broken up by police, Rukhin died in his sleep, surrounded by toxic painting supplies in his studio, in a fire allegedly ignited by the KGB in efforts to force him into conformity.
In 1966, when Rukhin was just twenty three, his work was received by the 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 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 his heritage. Despite his cultural profundity, the artist’s legacy has yet to infiltrate Russia but remains abroad, in collections such as that of Norton Dodge.
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Evgeny Rukhin (Russian: Евгений Рухин; July 2, 1943 – May 24, 1976) was a Russian Non-Conformist painter.
He was born in Saratov, Russia into a family of scientists. He began painting at the age of twenty, during his geological studies. His paintings were highly controversial. He was Russian Non-conformist artist working in Leningrad in the 1960s and 1970s. He was married to Galina Popova, an official Soviet artist who has studied stained glass during her art school days. Rukhin was a known chauvinist and alcoholic. He was a prolific painter, working on 6 or more pieces at any given time. Because of his startling appearance and charismatic personality he was a standout figure amongst the artists of the Russian underground, working closely with foreigners interested in smuggling non-conformist art out of the Soviet Union. His various foreign-based contacts included the American collector Norton Dodge who now possess a collection of roughly 9,000 works of Soviet non-conformist art. Perhaps it was Rukhin’s determined dissidence, his ability to organize his colleagues in the underground, his illegal contact with foreigners, or his dangerous personal habits (such as smoking in rooms where he kept various studio chemicals) that led to his death in 1976. His studio went up in flames and he and another artist’s wife perished in the fire. According to Rukhin’s wife, Popova, the fire was simply a cover up for a K.G.B. murder, but the official report states that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of the fire. Either way Evgeny Rukhin was dead at the young age of 32 after producing hundreds upon hundreds of striking examples of non-conformist art.http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Рухин,_Евгений_Львович