Numbers as Art (pArt 1) / Ilia Bouslakov (Russia)

Hi. It’s Ilia from Vologda (Russia), 43 years old. I’m not a professional artist (technical, financial and law background). A couple of years ago I started making art from numbers (drawings mainly) – 1, 2, 3 etc. in a row.

Why numbers? It’s a very difficult question to which I have no precise answer. Coincidence of many circumstances.

As of today, more than 400 works have been created. I called this project “Numbers as Art”. Yes, these two notions are not compatible at all, the very idea is absurd, etc., etc., but it turned out to be so natural to my soul and mind that nowadays I just can’t stop and I’m literally falling deeper and deeper in love with this project, the main goal of which is to show that numbers may look quite different from what we’re used to and can be art themselves.

It feels bizarre when you have to speak another language to explain something about numbers keeping in mind the fact that the latter do not need to be translated since everyone on the earth understands them.

Well, let’s get started. As an overview of this project, I’d like to share with you (in several posts) a few works which show principal ideas or directions of my practice.

Today I’m starting with numbers looking like humans (Paper 42×30 cm, acrylic). It was the first time when I realized that a number I had drawn accidently didn’t look like a number. Later on I started developing this idea and now I create such works intentionally.

One of the basic principles within this project – there should be no ambiguity in reading a specific number (rules of reading in order of priority: attention to details, from left to right, from top to bottom, common sense).

It means I don’t draw something that later on I call a certain number, but on the contrary: I proceed to a number (e.g. 256, having completed the work on 255) that is going to be turned into something.

More works at

“Number 70” looking at you.
Usually it’s vice versa, don’t you think so?
No comments needed.
“Number 89”. Vibes.
Comment: man – “8”, woman -” 9″.
“Number 184”. Peasant.
Comment: shovel or rake – “1”, man -” 8″, pitchfork – “4”.
“Number 188”. Amour.
Comment: bed -“1”, man – “8”, woman – “8”.
“Number 198”. When it’s over.
Comment: hand – “1”, balloon with a lace – ” 9″, kid – “8”.
“Number 206”. Countryside.
Comment: tree – “2”. As you can notice, the lower left part of the crown is not connected to the trunk and the upper right part of the trunk is not connected to the crown. Man – “0” (void figure). Woman – “6” (void figure in the lower part with a tail above).
“Number 208”. Wind.
Comment: umbrella – “2” turned clockwise (90°). Hand – “0”. Man – “8”.
“Number 218”. Tired.
Comment: glass – “2” turned clockwise (90°). Spilled let’s say “wine” – “1”. Man – “8”.
“Number 248”. Monday morning.
Comment: glass – “2”. Hand – “4”. Woman – “8”.
“Number 386”. He.
Comment: left and most of the upper part of the cross – “3” turned 180°. Man (you might know him) – “8”. Right part of the cross – “6”.

to be continued…

  1. Avatar photo
    Nazar Niazmetov

    Dear Ilia, thank you for your post!
    Such a curious mix of life spheres! I like also your idea of the series and your principles for it. Don’t you have another one by the way: to use only Arabic figures?
    Except Roman, I knew about exotic even for us Cyrillic numerals. That’s crazy, isn’t that?

    1. Avatar photo
      Ilia Bouslakov

      Nazar, thanks for your feedback.

      You are right, I only work with Arabic numerals, as I have been using them all my life. Using some exotic system would make my work completely incomprehensible, which contradicts another principle of the project – simplicity.

      Who knows, maybe one day another “crazy maths artist” (like me) will experiment with these forgotten counting systems … You can always give it a try)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Virtual residents