Meet the Artist
An interview with Alexander Nikolenco
1-The name of your upcoming solo exhibition is “FUTURUM”, why and what does it mean?
The title of my next exhibition “FUTURUM “ is inspired by our recent time. This world is translated from Latin and means future.
Everyone in the world seems to have now a sense of the future as the time of global change. People are looking anxiously for a faint outline of the future, looking for signs and signals, and feeling the archetype of the future.
In general it is the mission of the artist to show these signs, it is the future.
Many would agree this is what my work shows.
2-Your oil paintings and your graphics are very different; from minimalist, and few subjects in your oil paintings to lots of action, tension, abstraction in your graphics. How do you explain this?
First: drawing and painting, although sisters, have a very different nature.
Different language to express thoughts and feelings.
In graphic it is the line and the form, in painting the color and the volume.
But of course this is a quite conventional division, especially in recent time where there is total mix of styles and media.
But this is a very broad topic, and I don’t an expert in it. Especially because on there are many books and articles written on this subject.
In short, the difference in my drawings and my paintings can be due to the different expression tools used.
Secondly – the time aspect you are talking about, as a single stylistic direction has been my development for a long time, over 20 years.
Much has changed since then. These changes can be seen in my work.
That is, you can see the natural process of development, the evolution of the artist.
3-Your series” White Sun” is made of simple objects and forms, is like you are “emptying” the picture for the viewer to fill it.. Are you a philosopher in art? How would you explain this series?
“White Sun” is a very Saint Petersburg series. This feeling is the most interesting in the world, in my opinion, when the city assumes dusk, fog, innuendo, disappearing in the morning and the cold air designs images.
It is inspired by the dark and long winter, typical for these latitudes.
This series were painted in the winter of 2013-2014.
Whitish, “gray”, from salt and frost, the shapes of it, can often be seen here at the end of a long winter.
Minimalist means of expression are in my opinion, especially relevant today.
The channels of perception of modern man are completely overwhelmed by external stimuli.
This fact is widely recognized by the scientific community, researchers and representatives of medicine.
Imagine a citizen of the 19th century in our time; the overload of information he would have submitted to would have driven him insane.
The threshold of perception of modern man is extremely high.
Since it is so high, the mind exceeds this threshold.
That is, in a sense, the blind spectrum of modern man narrowed his perception.
So alignment marks and symbols may be lost. .
My work is the return to this signs and symbols.
In this series they are not represented as intrusive and their manifestation does not act rudely and direct to the head.
They do not impose consciousness; they directly address the subconscious and archetypes.
A dialogue between the viewer and the painting occurs
The minimalism series of “White Sun” is a deconstruction of symbols and images of the present, a purification of the original image away from the superfluous, the superficial, and exemption from promotional stickers.
For example the painting “Bowl of Rice” uses the symbol of a cup of food. That’s all a person needs to live.
The image is served “as it is”, natural and naked, without imposing anything to the viewer turning back to the audience the original meaning and value of food.
Compare this image with advertising for fast food chains.
If anything I have said answering your question may be philosophy, I may be called a philosopher of art.
4-Your choice of color, this “marbled grey” is very characteristic in many of your oil paintings; it has become you own label …….. What is this color, what does it mean or symbolize?
This color, which you call “marbled grey”“, is the result of a special painting technique to create the picture’s background.
For me, such a background creates a special atmosphere for the perception of my artworks, and its value for the formation of the whole scene is decisive, in my opinion.
“Marbled gray” background gives the picture a certain mystique, perhaps – a little mystery.
This pattern is very similar to the dirty snow in springtime, when melted ice and snow reveals the outlines of hidden objects and subjects.
Maybe it symbolizes the victory of life over death, because the object has survived the winter and return to us under the rays of spring sunshine.
It could also symbolize both the illusory, the uncertainty surrounding the reality where we only distinguish the outlines of objects, faces and forms.
5-At the “Mirage” series, you seem to repeat this concept of figures on the border of the abyss, ready to jump to infinity, or is it maybe into the future?
This series was created without a specific plan, very intuitive at the end of 2013 and early spring of 2014.
It turned out that in summer these events actually occurred, so this series can be considered a kind of prophecy.
This is personal; I do not want to give more details.
But what happened, happened.
Frankly, many of my paintings are for me a mystery.
And often they are a mystery to some extent.
Maybe it was a message, perhaps a warning.
In any case, these paintings” touch” and attract certain people. What exactly – is difficult to explain, even for them.
I must say I have always considered myself a modern man who does not believe in mysticism or magic, I even have a past as a scientist, a neuroscientist to prove it, but life has taught me lately to listen to intuition and new sensations.
6-In your drawings and paintings through the years there are some recurring images, such as pears and irises.
Is there a special meaning in this?
Pears are very archetypal.
Pear shape and flavor, it symbolizes a woman’s breasts.
Irises are elegant, one might say – they own and advanced, natural design, color and form.
I liked pears and irises since I was a child, their shape and color.
They pleased me, it was interesting for me to observe them and explore them.
And apparently these images have since accompanied my creativity and me.
7–One of your graphic series: Kali Yuga seems at first glance antagonists.
Is this the future?
Or is it a series to tell the about the Hindu mythology –Kali Yuga- era of darkness and spiritual shredding?
Really – Kali Yuga is a symbolic series.
A world full of signs and symbols, and there is a view for its management.
As I said – the artist feels and shows signs that he sees.
The artist is endowed with the ability to distinguish between these signs and accept them, then transfer it to the viewer with the artistic mediums available.
If the message of the artist is true, it always finds an echo in the soul of the viewer.
It is then the Inherent right of the viewer to interpret what they see in terms of spirituality or others.
Displaying the truth as an absolute imperative of creativity puts an end to the question of moral responsibility of the artist, so I believe.
The symbols in the Kali Yuga series can be interpreted widely; there are a vast variety of allusions and references.
The unifying element is the symbol of the wheel and the perpetual motion, in which there is no outcome.
This may mean the atomization and fragmentation of modern society, in which the detached and self-existential loneliness individual moves along its path, just as an elementary particle moves around the atomic nucleus.
Or is it an allusion to the black hole, the dead sun.
The symbol of the black hole, which slowly but steadily is attracting mind space and narrowing our living habitat.
By the way Kali Yuga series are not over yet, in the exhibition you can see only a part of the my work, more will be displayed in my website- NiKOLENCO.RU
8-The style of your graphic works from the 90’s and your current ones is very different. If in earlier time you presented simple and clear lines, your current works are much more expressive and rich with more movement and energy.
Is this difference the result of the evolution of your creativity, your personal development as an artist or is there another explanation?
An obvious reason for this transition is the use of larger sheets, brushes and a more expressive, “beautiful” writing technique.
Notice that this evolution is not only an artist but also as a person. It is generally accepted that a person does not change over time. This is true, but I think that most of the capabilities and talent that belong to each of us does get actualized, is simply “asleep.”
And under the influence of any life circumstances, these abilities can be updated. Often they become a surprise to both friends and acquaintances of the person.
A few years ago I did not think I would paint with oil painting, I preferred graphics.
But something happened. ……what happened in 2014, and I painted around 100 oil paintings,… previously I had not done more than a few each year. .
This turning from my creativity expression towards painting has influenced the style and manner of my new graphics.
9-You are currently painting a new series called “Horizon” where the sea and the sky, the point they meet “the Horizon “are the main characters.
Is this series related to your new exhibition “FUTURUM”?
Indeed “Horizon” is a new series, but you can find this image in many of my previous works. This motif is widely used in contemporary art.
In FUTURUM, most of my artworks are, one way or the other , connected to the concept of the horizon, or more exactly – the event horizon of the future. It is one of the major signs of the existence of a black hole. According to assistant director Shep Doeleman at the Haystack Observatory, “… as soon as the object crosses the event horizon of a black hole, they are forever lost, this one way door of our universe. You walk through that door you’re not coming back.
This is due to another phenomenon – the gravitational singularity, a point where there are no laws of space or time.
Singularity in general, is a moment, a key point in which the familiar objects, elements and phenomena begin to behave in an unusual and unpredictable way.
My Interest in this topic comes from long, as a 10 years old I wrote to a Moscow magazine about an article about the impact of new technologies, IT, Internet, virtual reality in our world and its future as well as the technological singularity.
To resume FUTURUM is dedicated to my artistic visual study and display of my perception of these phenomena- the singularity, space, time and the future. Of course, all of the above can be considered a pseudoscience delirium. But to prove or justify the research is the task of the scientist, not the artist.
As an artist I am interested in the phenomenon of the singularity, its symbolic, semantic and cognitive content.
10-For our final question: how do you see the future of your work, what are your future plans as an artist?
No one can know the future.
But sometimes the artist lifts the veil of obscurity and sees some of the outlines of the future.
To be more specific, my art manager is currently in talks with a number of art galleries that are located in Northern Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. .
My work seems to be interesting in perception for the spectators of these regions.
I was born in the city of Liepaja in Latvia, so I feel deeply attached to the nature of the Baltic and also to the architecture of the old Hanseatic cities.
My whole life is related to living at different coastal locations.
At the level of a personal perception I feel very close to the majestic power of the great masses of water and the menacing charm of large spaces, where you can contemplate the design of the elements of water, earth and sky.