Introduction / Erik Bulatov

Erik Bulatov’s large-scale series and sculpture (FORWARD) traces the development of the artist’s response to the architectural and historical contexts of The Foundry, a former munitions factory in the worker’s commune of Maubourguet, after his first visit in the summer of 2015. The series, in its entirety, features 28 preparatory sketches, nine artist models, four canvases and one sculpture. Bulatov uses the word FORWARD to investigate space and motion, repeating it four times in the monumental sculpture, and twice in each canvas. First installed on the courtyard of The Foundry FORWARD, the sculpture produced from black steel responds to the exterior and interior of the building, with the scale of the location determining the size of the final installation. The land surrounding The Foundry was levelled with concrete and new external walls built.


FORWARD comprises 24 letters installed upright in a circle with one letter positioned flat as if fallen. The internal face of each letter is painted in red matt enamel. The dimensions of each letter are 2900 x 1780 x 900 cm. The overall diameter of the installation measures 18200 cm. Four canvases are installed inside the building; three canvases measure 300 x 300 cm and one canvas comprises four 300 x 300 cm canvases, 600 x 600 cm overall.


The flat, three-dimensional letters of the sculpture respond to the external ‘social space’, creating a dialogue with the location’s historical and political context. The sculpture becomes activated by the movement of individuals, who restricted within the interior of the circle, experience the inertia implied by the formal and political signification of the sculpture. This investigation into depth and motion reoccurs through the repetition of the word FORWARD on the two-dimensional canvases through the positioning of the colours white, red and black.