Oleg Kulik

Oleg Borisovich Kulik (Russian: Оле́г Бори́сович Кули́к; born 1961 in Kiyv[1][2]) is a Ukrainian-born Russian performance artist, sculptor, photographer and curator. He is best known for his controversial artistic performances in which he acted like a dog.

Life and art

Kulik was born in Kiyv, graduated from Shevchenko State Art School (1979) and Kiev Geological Survey College (1982). He lives and works in Moscow from 1986.[1][2]As a sculptor he began to work under the influence of Alexander Archipenko, later developed his own style. Was awarded a scholarship by the Berlin Senate in 1996.

For his performances, Kulik creates a symbolic set of parameters to define the environment which he will inhabit in the persona of a dog, and then devises a series of actions that unfold as a response. The artist describes the dialogue within his practice as "a conscious falling out of the human horizon" which places him on hands and knees. His intention is to describe what he sees as a crisis of contemporary culture, a result of an overly refined cultural language which creates barriers between individuals. Thus, he simplifies his performance language to half of the basic emotional vocabulary of a domestic animal.

In 2007 "Oleg Kulik: Chronicle 1987–2007, a retrospective of Kulik's work, was exhibited at the Central House of Artists, Moscow.[3] It was also exhibited at Rencontres d'Arles festival, France in 2004.

As curator of the Regina Gallery, Kulik became known for his unorthodox approaches such as putting paintings on wheels and hiring people to carry the artworks.[4]

Kulik considers his best curatorial endeavor to be "Leopards Bursting into a Temple" by Anatoly Osmolovsky in 1992. In this exhibit, two naked people were put into a cell with live leopards walking around them. He had said that he thought the exhibition was a "metaphor for everything new and lively that appears in our life".[4]

In 2009, Kulik curated the "Kandinsky Prize in London" at the Louise Blouin Foundation.[4]

In 2012 in Kiyv Kulik curated with Kostyantyn Doroshenko and Anastasia Shavlokhova project "Apocalypse and Renaissance in Chocolate House", branch of the National Museum "Kyiv Art Gallery". At that exhibition 43 artists from Ukraine and Russia presented the metaphor of modern times. Andrey Monastyrsky, Arsen Savadov, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Dmitriy Gutov, Zhanna Kadyrova, Oksana Mas and other artists were among the participants. [5]

In 2022, Kulik was questioned and faced possible prosecution for "rehabilitation of Nazism" after his 2015 sculptural work 'Big Mother' was shown at Art Moscow. Militant pro-Kremlin politicians claimed that the work mocked The Motherland Calls, a monument to soldiers at Stalingrad. Kulik said "If I could imagine at least 10% of the interpretation that is now being made of my work, I would not only not show it, but I would not even have started it”; it was inspired by “a painful recovery from the trauma associated with splitting up with my beloved wife."[6]


At the Interpol group exhibition in Stockholm in 1996, he performed in the gallery chained next to a sign reading "dangerous". An international scandal occurred when he not only attacked members of the public who chose to ignore the sign, in one case biting a man, but also attacked other artworks within the exhibition, partially destroying some pieces made by other artists.

Kulik thought this was an excusable act, as there was a warning label attached to his performance which people chose to disregard, reasoning that his intention was to divulge his angst at the current cultural crisis through the violent anger of a dog.

The incident inspired a scene in the 2017 film The Square directed by Ruben Östlund, where animal actor Terry Notary plays a performance artist who imitates an ape.[7]

Susan Silas letter

In 1997 artist Susan Silas wrote "A Love Letter to Oleg Kulik, A Prince among Men, a Man among Dogs". She describes visiting Kulik during his performance of "I Bite America and America Bites Me", in which Kulik references Joseph Beuys with an updated reference to the current cultural setting of America.[8] Again, Kulik performed as a dog, this time in a specially built cage, which the spectator would enter wearing protective garb.


  1. ^ a b Oleg Kulik on gif.ru
  2. ^ a b Kulik, Oleg on tvgallery.ru
  3. ^ "История — Центральный дом художника (ЦДХ)". cha.moscow. Central House of Artists. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Valentin Diaconov, "Oleg Kulik", Modern Painters, November 2009.
  5. ^ "Apocalypse, not likely: Kulik-curated Parallel Project to Kyiv's Arsenale Shut Down for "Pornography"". Baibakov Art Projects. 10 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Russian artist Oleg Kulik faces prosecution for 'rehabilitating Nazism' with sculpture shown at Art Moscow". The Art Newspaper - International art news and events. 22 April 2022. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  7. ^ Boucher, Brian (9 November 2017). "'The Art World Is Hard to Satirize': Ruben Östlund on Sending Up Curators in His Award-Winning Film 'The Square'". Artnet. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  8. ^ Susan Silas, "a love letter to oleg kulik", Artnet Magazine, 1 May 1997.


  • Olena Kovalchuk. And I could bark to the end: Interview with performer Oleg Kulik. Birdinfligh 1.08. 2018.(in Ukr., Rus.)[1]

External links