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AFTER THE CONCEPT

EXHIBITION OF VIKTOR NIKOLAEV AT THE KUPOL GALLERY

MOSCOW (RUSSIA) | SEPTEMBER 2021

Viktor Evseevich Nikolaev (1943-2017) is a Russian-German abstract painter and calligrapher, an unofficial artist and one of the most important representatives of abstract painting in Russia. His creative path began in 1968. In 1976-77. Nikolaev arranged apartment exhibitions with the participation of Dmitry Prigov, Boris Orlov, Igor Shelkovsky and other nonconformist artists. In the 1970s, he also met Francisco Infante, and this meeting gave impetus to the development of Nikolaev's individual style. Landmarks for him are the largest artists of the Parisian school: Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Joan Miró, as well as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.


Victor Nikolaev has come a long way in the search for his version of non-objective art: both the teachings of Zen Buddhism and the “spontaneous painting” of the American abstract artist Jackson Pollock became his inspiration. In the late 1980s, Nikolaev came to tachisme and the “meditative” technique of gouache on paper sheets. Later, calligraphic symbols, reminiscent of Japanese writing, became the main expressive sign of his canvases.


Nikolaev's non-objective art came to absolute creative maturity in the early 1990s. At this time, he develops his own unique language, creating numerous pictorial and graphic series of various formats. “The clearly expressed expressive gesture of his non-objectivity went through the crucible of the accelerated development of Soviet underground art of the last two decades, entering, together with it, into the stage of the existence of painting “after the concept,” wrote art critic Marina Bessonova in the catalog of Viktor Nikolaev’s solo exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery in 1993.


The exhibition at the Kupol Gallery presented artist's artworks from 2003-2011, reflecting the uniqueness of Nikolaev's creative method. In the center of the exposition was a large-scale abstract canvas, which echoed in color and rhythm with graphic sheets of various formats. The latter demonstrate Victor Nikolaev's approach to the creation of his works: each, being an independent work, nevertheless is part of a common whole. This exhibition was the first public display of Nikolaev's works in Moscow since his death in 2017.


“The art of Nikolaev, preserving its originality and organic need for non-objective self-expression, raises the problem of the viability of pure abstraction as one of the main phenomena of the visual culture of our century.” — art historian Marina Bessonova