Luchezar Boyadjiev
(b. 1957, Sofia; lives and works in Sofia)

Endspiel; or the Good, the Bad, and the Lonely.

Wood, metal, veneer, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

One of the founding fathers of contemporary art in Bulgaria, Luchezar Boyadjiev (like many artists who use conceptualist tools in their practice) works in dialogue with the intellectual legacy of Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). As well as laying the foundations of conceptualism, Duchamp was a keen chess player, but he did not become an internationally acclaimed figure in that field. Boyadjiev’s extended chessboard continues Duchamp’s exploration of the nature of art and its limitations. We know that Duchamp gave up art for chess for over ten years (perhaps a conscious but unannounced performance?). However, to Boyadjiev, Duchamp’s eventual return to art was a sign of the everlasting nature of the artistic process, in which there is never an end—only breaks—and endless combinations are possible.

Boyadjiev says that the work was inspired by the 1932 book Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled, which Duchamp co-wrote with the endgame study composer Vitaly Halberstadt. It explores an extremely rare position that can arise in the endgame. A conceptualist with a great interest in mathematical curiosities and rarities, Boyadjiev could not miss the opportunity to present his own version of chess, the game that defies infinity. Scientists have calculated that the number of possible unique chess games is higher than the number of electrons in the universe.