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Dark Air, 2016  |  Art Brussels 2017

Rather than dissecting the ideology of postcommunism by apologetically showcasing the breakthroughs of the Soviet era, Kadan takes the political stance by reflecting both through an agonistic logic. Here the moments of premodern, modern and postmodern are not to be ascribed to different historical periods, but are moments that permeat both communism and post-communism. And while neoliberalist agenda strives to deprive politics of all its dialectical stamina, preaching the futility of unneccessary ideological divisions, depoliticizing the politics of today and neutralizing past struggles, Kadan's work insists on its complexities. Thus as dark clouds rise to blurr the sight of the heroic vision of the past in the series of drawings Dark air that set the tone for the whole show (1), we are forced to examine both the great emancipation narrative of communism and its manipulation the disillusioned politics of today, with Kadan insisting that the battle for their signification is far from over.   
(1) reference to exhibition in Arsenal Galeria, Bialystok, sept. 2016.

 

Photographs comprising Dark Air show military monuments from the Soviet era: the official canon of memory, in glaring contrast to memory archived, and to personal memory as a backdrop for the monument. The monument may be perceived in reverse to "unrecognised" memory, a thing continued and extended over time. Its illusionary "dark clots" become a separate component of the image, distorting perception.

Dark Air 3, charcoal on photo, 60 x 42 cm, framed, 2016

Dark Air 2, charcoal on photo, 60 x 42 cm, framed, 2016

Dark Air 4, charcoal on photo, 60 x 42 cm, framed, 2016

Dark Air 1, charcoal on photo, 60 x 42 cm, framed, 2016

 

Riza, 2016

Riza is the replica of a metal element improvised by workers of Kyiv Metro to hide the communist symbolics on a bronze basrelief, devoted to the October revolution of 1917.  They act according to the current Ukrainian 'decommunisation laws'.

[Wikipedia about Riza:]  Riza ( Revetment or Oklad which means "cover", "coating"), sometimes called a "revetment" in English, is a decorative metal cover protecting an icon. The purpose of a riza is to honour and venerate an icon, and ultimately the figure depicted on it. The riza helps protect the icon. A riza is designed specifically for the icon it is to cover. It leaves open spaces where the face, hands, and feet of the icon's subject can be seen.

 

 

Everybody Wants to Live by the Sea  | Art Brussels 2016

all:  2015, Gouache & inkjet print on Museum Etching Paper, 47,3 x 64 cm

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Nikita Kadan, Gazelka | Art and the Struggle of Ideologies | 30.08 - 04.10.15

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Open:  vrijdag, zaterdag & zondag 14 - 18 uur, of na afspraak. 

Parking [Zandpoortvest 2] tegenover de galerie, gratis in het weekend, op andere dagen € 0,30/uur

 

hART [nr 145] schrijft over deze tentoonstelling:

Galerie Transit in Mechelen ontdekte Nikita Kadan, de jonge en reeds veelgevraagde Oekraïense kunstenaar, heel vroeg. Zijn nieuwe solo 'Gazelka & Art and the Struggle of Ideologies' oogt droog documentair, maar niet voor lang. Het is een scherpzinnige display met een vlag van door granaatscherven opengereten autocarrosserie, een stukje van de oorlog in Oekraïne. Alsook de verbazende en bijna hilarische sovjetkijk op westerse kunst.
"Ik wil een westerse avant-gardekunstenaar zijn, zoals die kunstenaars werden beschreven door de sovjets: dat zei ik toen ik in de jaren negentig sovjetboeken over kunst las. Ze hebben me aangezet om naar de kunstschool te gaan." Nikita Kadan (°1982, Kiev) stapt dan naar twee Russische pockets. "Kijk, dit is 'Crisis van Lelijkheid. Van kubisme tot pop art'. Hier heb je Hartung en Miró bij een schilderij van een schizofreen. De slechte kwaliteit van die reproducties, daar hou ik ook van. De commentaren kunnen vrij positief zijn. Over 'Elegy to the Spanish Republic' van Motherwell zeggen ze dat het mysterieuze abstracte symbolen zijn, hij zit verkeerd, maar hij is ook in staat om westerlingen te mobiliseren voor de politieke strijd." Uitvergrote pagina's tonen commentaren op Motherwell, Kienholz, Matta en meer kunstenaars, allemaal vertaald voor de bezoeker. De platen komen uit een sovjetpocket van 1978, een boek uit de reeks 'Art and the Struggle of Ideologies'. Helemaal readymade is de ingelijste sovjetbrochure 'Tegen abstracte kunst' met commentaar op Rothko. Zo onthult Nikita Kadan wat hem dreef om kunstenaar te worden. Zijn haarsnit doet denken aan James Dean. Maar hij is geen 'rebel without a cause'. Kritisch museum De blikvanger, als je het zo kan noemen, is de vlaggenstok. De grauwe vlag met inslaggaten is gemaakt van de cabine van een bestelwagen van het Russische merk GAZ, die 'Gazelka' wordt genoemd. Materiaal uit de oorlogszone, zoals hij het vond. In een reeks tekeningen verdwijnen zowel communistische monumenten die uit protest worden gesloopt als Oekraïense monumenten die door pro-Russische rebellen worden vernietigd onder de sneeuw: een vel kalkpapier waarop contourlijnen zijn getekend, alsof nieuwe landen worden gevormd. 'Observations on Archives' is een reeks lijsten met zwart-witbeelden die deels zijn bedolven onder steenkool. Een persoonlijk archief met oude foto's van gebouwen in de huidige oorlogszone en verdwenen kunst van Robert Smithson, Wolf Vostell, Jan Dibbets. "Archieven kunnen niet overleven in Oekraïne. Net zoals in andere oorlogen gaan ze in vlammen op. Het oosten van Oekraïne, het oorlogsgebied, is de mijnstreek. Er wordt gezegd dat de mijnwerkers pro-Russisch zijn, maar dat heb ik niet gemerkt toen ik met hen sprak. Ze zijn wel bang dat de mijnen zullen sluiten." Nog voor de protesten in 2013 uitbraken in zijn thuisstad Kiev boog hij zich over het historisch museum. "Hoe kan ik de complexiteit van de situatie tonen? Ik begon het te bekijken alsof het reeds een historisch museum is. Het is geen strikt wetenschappelijke analyse, maar een individuele en ook intuïtieve keuze." Meer werk staat in de biënnales van Kiev, Venetië en Istanbul (daar de grote installatie 'The Shelter'). Op zijn minst een boeiende kunstpraktijk. Dat zie je in het eerste overzichtsboek, een uitgave van Transit. Wellicht het meest bekend is 'Procedure Room' (2009-2010), porseleinen borden bedrukt met tekeningen van foltertechnieken. Sociaal-politiek activisme? "Ik geloof niet erg in activistische kunst. De borden zijn al gebruikt in een campagne tegen geweld. Zo kunnen kunst en activisme tijdelijk samenkomen, net zoals kunst en het historisch museum." Maar wat hebben wij, westerlingen, aan een display over Oekraïne? "Het is nodig om te begrijpen wat er gebeurt", repliceert hij. "Er kan een nieuwe koude oorlog op til zijn. Het gaat ook over het leven in het Westen, niet rechtstreeks, maar het is ermee verbonden."
Christine VUEGEN

Foto's van de tentoonstelling, klik hier

 

Difficulties of Profanation
Ukrainian Pavillion @ Venice Biennial 2015

 

A traditional showcase, in its form and material referring to showcases from the Soviet Union, accumulates materials that Nikita Kadan has collected in eastern Ukraine during the war. The rubble inside reveals political narratives with a striking truthfulness: these destroyed artefacts are containers of words, of images and memories that narrate a (present) history. Thus the sculpture deals with the institutionalization of memories, the role of local heritage in forming a historical understanding against the cultural amnesia resulting from the conflicts. The showcase itself, in opposition to the rubble it collects, addresses Ukraine’s Soviet past, a part of history that is rather readily forgotten. It places the current conflict in a historical framework and presents the war as an extension of an established conflict of ideologies.
In between the rubble, inside the showcase, grows a bean plant that over time will cover the destroyed artefacts. It transforms the sculpture into a greenhouse, referring to popular gardens that appeared throughout the conflict, starting on the occupation of Maidan Square and continuing to the warzone in Dombass. These gardens suggest hope, a new start, a future life and process of reconciliation.

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Everybody Wants to Live by the Sea  |  Fabrica del Vapore Milano  & Transit Gallery | 2014

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[...] A significant example of the use of storytelling to connect facts and events that the dominant system tends to hide is the work Everybody Wants to Live by the Sea(2014). Nikita Kadan goes deep into the past of Crimea when this land was the subject of dispute between the Tartars living there and the Soviet state wishing to build there a resort infrastructure. Hidden memories of the peoples, nations and states struggling for the possession of the peninsula as well as the artist's personal memories are transformed in a semi-documentary display of imagery and distinctive architectural forms that tells the story of the land, its past and, consequently, its future. Tartars vernacular architecture represents something which was not absorbed by the soviet project and which return is evident in the post-soviet reality. These pieces of striking reality, ruins of a disintegrated everyday-life, made difficult by a new order of things, are in a sharp contrast with the abstract figure of the soviet past, identified with the facades of the neo-modernist soviet architecture. The tatars are nowadays a shameful and degraded image on the background of society. The ready-made parts of the work represent here an intersection of reality with a strong sense of degrading materiality which intentionally tries to cynically disturb the viewer revealing invisible parts of our present.   [...]

  [Fragment of a new text by Sylvia Francescini, 2014, to appear in forthcoming book about Nikita Kadan]

 

All works:  gouache & inktjetprint on Museum Etching Paper, 47,3 x 64 cm

 

Barricade Watercolors | Solo Art Brussels booth Transit Gallery | april 2014

Nikita Kadan Barricade

Barricade, 48,5 x 68,5 cm, 2014, watercolor on paper

 

Nikita Kadan Barricade 2

Barricade, 48,5 x 68,5 cm, 2014, watercolor on paper, private collection

Exhibition view Engineering Hope in Art Brussels 2014, boot Transit Gallery

 

Sungrid

"The incandescent rays of light in Private Suns by Nikita Kadan reflects an aura of freedom – which is increasingly being reduced in public space – from a private space. The visitors remain outside the utopian horizons created by the shining image of the neon suns of a post-socialist metal grid, where others (artists?) have sought to find a new dimension. The grid is only effective as a formal and ideological tool when it is not perceived as an escapist structure."

fragment from slideshow, 2014

Neon Sun Grid, as exhibited in Nikita Kadan's solo show Engineering Hope in Art Brussels 2014, booth Transit gallery

 

 

Nikita Kadan | wegvegen en overplakken | erasing and overposting
galerie Transit Mechelen | 07.04 - 19.05.2013

Nikita Kadan

 

Nikita Kadan werd geboren in 1982 in Kiev, Oekraïne, een land dat tot 1991 in de ban was het Sovjetregime en in 2004 nog geconfronteerd werd met de Oranjerevolutie omwille van het vermoeden van een vervalste verkiezingsuitslag. Deze turbulente maatschappelijke context van Kiev en Oekraïne bepaalt tot op heden de artistieke praktijk van Nikita Kadan als kunstenaar, schrijver en activist.


In 2004 was Nikita Kadan medeoprichter van het nog steeds bestaande kunstenaarscollectief R.E.P. ('Revolutionary Experimental Space') en vier jaar later hielp hij HudRada (Oekraïens voor ‘Artistiek comité’) in het leven blazen, een groep gevormd door curatoren en activisten. Met deze twee initiatieven helpt Nikita Kadan mee een nieuw platform te creëren voor hedendaagse kunst in Oekraïne, een platform waar jonge actuele kunstenaars gehoord worden, kunst geëngageerd mag zijn en in deze vorm een publiek kan bereiken.
Dit sociaal engagement en activisme staat eveneens centraal in de individuele kunstuitingen van Nikita Kadan. Door middel van verschillende media (sculpturen, schilderkunst, tekeningen, installaties en ingrepen in de publieke ruimte zoals posters en muurtekeningen) probeert Kadan ons bewust te maken van wat er zich afspeelt in het Oekraïne van vandaag maar ook in andere voormalige Sovjetstaten. Zijn ‘Procedure Room’, een reeks porseleinen borden waarop martelpraktijken van de Oekraïense politie te zien zijn, is een voorbeeld van hoe Kadan tot verantwoordelijkheid wil oproepen. Door hedendaagse repressieve praktijken aan het licht te brengen wil Kadan de utopie van een sociaaldemocratische staat doorprikken en oproepen tot actie. Kadan, als activist en kunstenaar, wil de doofpot openen. Wat onzichtbaar is, moet zichtbaar gemaakt worden.
Kadan denkt ook na over geschiedenis en de herinnering. Hoe verandert de maatschappij, de stad, het landschap en welke gevolgen heeft dit? Commercialisering, de ‘verwesterlijking’ van de samenleving en het dreigen verloren gaan van de historische roots zijn hierbij cruciale denkpistes. Hoe compleet is een stad wanneer alleen de reclameborden kleur hebben? Of met andere woorden, wanneer het verleden grijs is en het heden gekleurd?


Door intellectuele reflectie, kunsthistorische referenties (zoals de suprematistisch aandoende composities) en sociaal engagement geeft Nikita Kadan een zicht op het sociaal-politieke landschap van Oekraïne en het voormalige Sovjetgebied. Ingewikkelde problematieken en onbespreekbare onderwerpen worden door Kadan aangesneden maar niet op een brutale, choquerende manier. Door beredeneerde artistieke keuzes creëert Kadan met zijn kunst een ruimte waarin mensen betrokken kunnen worden, zonder dat het ongemakkelijk wordt. Met andere woorden, de kunstenaar wil een cognitief effect bekomen, met de vrijheid om te handelen als gevolg.


Nikita Kadan is winnaar van de Pinchuk Art Centre Prize 2011. Dit jaar zal zijn werk ‘Small House of Giants’ te zien zijn tijdens de Biënnale van Venetië in de tentoonstelling ‘Future Generation Price’.
In België stelde Nikita Kadan reeds werk tentoon tijdens Newtopia, en in het voorjaar van 2013 is hij artist in residence bij het Flacc in Genk. Galerie Transit brengt zijn eerste solotentoonstelling in België.

Nikita Kadan was born in 1982 in Kiev, in the Ukraine, a country that was controlled by the Soviet Regime until 1991. More recently, in 2004, the country was confronted with the Orange Revolution due to superstitious election results. This turbulent social context of Kiev and the Ukraine, determined up to the present the artistic practice of Nikita Kadan as an artist, a writer, and an activist.


In 2004, Nikita Kadan was co-founder of R.E.P. ('Revolutionary Experimental Space'), a still existing artist collective. Four years later, he fostered the development of Hudrada (Ukrainian for Artistic committee), a group put together by curators and activists. With those two initiatives, Nikita Kadan helped to create a new platform for contemporary art in the Ukraine. It is a platform where young artists are heard and art can be socially engaged while reaching an audience.
This social engagement and activism are also essential for the personal artistic expressions of Nikita Kadan. Through the use of different media (sculpture, painting, drawings, installations and interventions in public space like mural drawings and posters), Kadan is trying to create an awareness of what is happening today in the Ukraine, but also in other former Soviet Republics. His ‘Procedure Room’, a series of porcelain plates with drawings of torture practices executed by the Ukrainian police forces, is an example of how Kadan is trying to evoke responsibility with his audience. By revealing these repressive actions of the government, Kadan wants to dismantle the utopia of a so-called social democracy. In other words, it is a call for action. Kadan, as an activist and an artist, wants to reveal the truth. What is invisible has to be seen.
Nikita Kadan also focuses on history and memory. In what sense does the society, a city or a landscape evolve and what are the consequences of that change? Commercializing, the Westernization of society and the impending loss of historical roots are crucial ways to think about these changes. How complete is a city when only the billboards are colored? Or, if you will, when the past is bleached and the present is highlighted?


Through an intellectual reflection, art historical references (like drawings that reminds the audience of suprematist compositions), and a social engagement, Nikita Kadan shows us the socio-political landscape of the Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. He addresses complicated themes and unsown subjects, but not in a chokingly revealing way. By reasoned artistic choices, Kadan creates with his art a space where people can get engaged, without any kind of discomfort. The artist wants to obtain a cognitive effect, with the freedom to undertake action as a cause.

 

Nikita Kadan is the winner of the Pinchuk Art Centre Prize 2011. This summer, his work ‘Small House of Giants’ will be exposed at the ‘Future Generation Prize’ exhibition, during the Venice Biennale. In Belgium, he showed work at ‘Newtopia’ (Mechelen) and in the spring of 2013 he will be an artist in residence in Flacc Genk.
Transit gallery presents Nikita Kadan’s first solo exhibition in Belgium

 

 

Catalogue of Opportunities

Nikita Kadan Nikita Kadan Nikita Kadan

Nikita Kadan Nikita Kadan Nikita Kadan

Catalogue of Opportunities, 60 x 45 x 9 cm, 2012, light boxes

 

The Catalogue of Opportunities consists of six light boxes with photographs of cityscapes from old Soviet architecture magazines. The artist transformed the original images by cutting out the parts of the buildings that nowadays are covered with commercial advertisement. The light from the boxes shines purely through the white parts of the photos.

The motivation behind the work comes from the artists’ awareness of the prevailing spirit of change in the post-Soviet society. This society has a young, energetic but brutal eager for the new, to such a point that all what is left from the past seems insignificant. As the artist states, ‘In a way the Soviet public sphere is helpless, it cannot protect itself from aggressive privatization such as the invasion of liberal commercial advertisements in the streets.’ What is left is a new pictural idiom, one that is put forward in disregard of the reminiscences of what is left of the past.

 

 

Surfaces

 

Nikita Kadan Surfaces

Surfaces | Monument, 70 x 100 cm, 2013, drawing & collage, private collection

 

In most of his works Nikita Kadan uses formal elements of early Russian avant-garde art. The references to the avant-garde idiom and esthetics are the most appealing in his series The Surfaces. The geometrical elements in the last room of the exhibition catch the eye from a distance. It seems like no logical order is given to the floating red, bleu and yellow shapes on the papers. Floating in space and on the walls they become independent shapes that occupy the room, similar to early Soviet avant-garde and Suprematist art.

If one comes closer to the drawings, one notices the thin pencil marks of buildings on the paper. What appeared to be mere abstract geometrical shapes are actually the gaps in the cityscape that are occupied by billboards and posters. Kadan abstracted them from their current position in the contemporary landscape into the esthetic tradition of the Soviet era.

The large drawing in the center room of the gallery also belongs to the Surfaces series and is composed in the same way as the smaller pieces. It represents one of the larger Soviet sculptures that Kadan saw in one of the metro stations in Kiev.

Nikita Kadan SurfacesNikita Kadan Surfaces

 

Yesterday, Today, Today

[installation, 2012]



The installation shows two showcases that are counter parted by a projection of recent photographs of the undergrounds in Kiev. This piece is another reflection on the contemporary post-Soviet society and the traces of her past in its own margins.

Built in the Soviet era, the Kiev metro system was, just like the Moscow metro, an ideological space, and stands in contrast to Western metro systems that are more or less exclusively utilitarian. It was conceived as a subterranean public pleasure dome, with vaulted-ceilinged halls, and decorations full of symbols. In the post-ideological time of the last two decades, the metro has joined the list of spaces opening themselves up to invasion by liberated commercial interests. Today the metro station halls have become advertising space, with the monumental scale of these former ideological palaces now serving competing advertisers. The stone of Soviet modernist antiquity is hidden behind self-adhesive film. The fact that the dormant ideological yesterday of Soviet granite and marble now carries constantly-renewing adhesive film with bright “It’s today, forever!” advertising seems to me like an image of rebellion against the future, one which angrily reflects our times and the places in which we live.’ [Nikita Kadan]

The black-white-red marble pieces, typical of the decoration of the metro, symbolize the buildings that are ‘overlapped’ by commercials. The vast material of the stones contrasts the short lifespan of the stick-on ads that are constantly renewed.

Nikita Kadan gallery transit

 

 

Transit Gallery presents “Procedure room

This project is about police torture, a widespread practice in contemporary Ukraine. One could also say that this project is about the body, as something personal (unalienated), something private (an object of exchange), and as something that exists for the public good (entrusted to uniformed professionals). The project consists of a set of 8 souvenir plates printed with drawings of police tortures and the text of the email dialogue between Yekaterina Mishchenko and Nikita Kadan. The project includes posters with the same drawings and correspondence fragments, which were put up in public space. The choice of forms and visual means is connected with the absence of any clear visual documentation of torture procedures, with their specific 'invisibility'. The didactic character of these drawings addresses the collective responsibility of all those who know and remain silent, bearing the guilt for what goes on 'in the shadows'. These instructions have been executed in the style of the "Popular Medical Dictionary" of the Soviet era, where one could often find illustrations of patient-characters with serene facial expressions, even though they are undergoing extremely painful procedures. 'The doctor knows what he is doing. It's all for our own good'.

 

Nikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita KadanNikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita Kadan

Nikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita KadanNikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita Kadan

Nikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita KadanNikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita Kadan

Nikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita KadanNikita Kadan Procedure Room Mykita Kadan

Procedure Room,  diameter 28 x 8 cm, 2009-2010, ed 6/50

 

Pinchuk Art Center webpage about Nikita Kadan

read more on the artists own website