...Mikhail Koulakov is one of the few Russian abstract painters, also from the whole of Eastern Europe, whose style is close to "action painting" or "abstract expressionism", compared to many of his colleagues who were more interested in surface effects and the play of thickness. Speaking about his art, Koulakov often refers to posters and writings by painters from Western Europe and the United States. He compares the process of creating a work with the creation of the cosmos (J. Basen), the way in which the creative act resembles medieval combat (G. Mattieu,) studying the behaviour of materials during the creation of a work. Koulakov's interest in the brush's freedom of play - which the artists of ancient China were masters of - as well as his interest in oriental philosophy which attracted many abstract artists (Z. Vouki, A. Michau, Wols, and others), also led him to study and practice some of the martial arts (he has received the "7 duan" rank) as well as teaching them.

...Unlike many unofficial painters, who experimented with abstract art and then abandoned it completely or for a period of time, such as J. Zlotnikov and B. Turezkij, Mikhail Koulakov is one of the few consistent Russian abstract artists. Like many other abstract artists, he left the USSR in 1976. The first to leave was V. Slepian who went to Paris in 1958, followed by V. Brui (1968), O. Prokofiev (1971), V. Vorobiov (1975), and Lida Masterkova in 1975.

...Mikhail Koulakov was one of the few unofficial artists of that period who acted as a link between Moscow and Leningrad. In Leningrad he became friendly with artist Jevghenij Mikhnov-Voitenko and together they organised performances or happenings involving works of abstract art (for instance, setting fire to works with nitro enamel paint). He got to know several unofficial poets and writers such as Viktor Sosnora, Gleb Gorbovski, Aleksandr Kondratov, and was invited to illustrate their books.
In the late 1990s, Mikhail Koulakov left his classic mark on a public area in the Eternal City. Abstract art is a classic feature of the 20th century and, in Koulakov's case, his style is based on oriental calligraphy. The so-called "underground museum" at the stations of the Rome metro system was created by Piero Dorazio, one of the founders of the Italian abstract movement who worked with United States artists in the 1940s and 1950s, and with the German minimalists of the Zero group. Several of Rome's metro stations were decorated with mosaics by important international artists, and a mosaic by Mikhail Koulakov is permanently displayed at the Anagnina station.
Abstract art in Russia has emerged from thirty years of underground existence, and after the period of perestroika, works are now on display in museums (for example, Koulakov's personal show at the Tretiakov State Gallery in Moscow in 2008), and are sold in art galleries. Moreover, there have been attempts to understand and interpret 20th century Russian abstract art (major exhibitions at the Russkij Museum and the Tretiakov Gallery); however, it is still not possible to imagine abstract works on display at the stations of the Moscow metro. The only attempt to introduce abstract art into public areas is through the work of graffiti artists, but the content is mainly confined to advertising messages and images.
These exterior changes in his homeland do not seem to concern Mikhail Koulakov particularly. For many years he has lived amongst the hills of Umbria, once inhabited by Umbrian tribes and then by the Etruscans with a history rich in sibyls who interpreted the future. Mikhail Koulakov is immersed in the interior processes of creativity, ranging from capturing the fleeting moment to controlling the spontaneity of materials, accompanied by intellectual exercises and significant changes. Not by chance, one of his latest series of illustrations is dedicated to the Chinese Book of Changes.

Zinaida Starodubtseva ,Director of Mediateca, NCCA, Moscow
A bridge between two Cultures, Rome, 2013