Nikita Chernoritsky. The Edge
The Young Lions program between the Triumph Gallery and the MMOMA, which began in 2015, is designed to help young artists who have already worked on various successful projects to fully realize their ideas in the museum’s exhibition spaces. They can try on the role of a ‘museum artist’ for the first time and, perhaps, look differently at their works featured in a new context.
Looking through the portfolio of the program, I noticed that a significant part of the projects includes painting as the main means of solving artistic problems. I think this is primarily due to the centuries-old cultural tradition, that painting has become not only a subject, but also a symbol of the visual arts. Turning to this medium, the artist immediately ‘takes as his assistant’ all the cultural baggage that the viewer carries with him. Any images presented to us painted in oil on canvas take on additional, often sacred meanings.
Painting also plays an important role in Nikita Chernoritsky’s project The Edge. Large two-meter canvases with hyper-realistically painted objects and shapes, seemingly plucked from darkness, become points of attraction that set the tone for everything going on around them. As if accidentally caught in the beam of a headlight or lantern, dried out trunks, objects wrapped in dense glossy material, dropped out of their reality for a moment and presented to us, give rise to a feeling of emptiness and dense darkness surrounding the viewer.
In his video works Nikita uses the same plastic device which is used in painting — contrast. The action unfolds before us, placed in complete, impenetrable, absolute darkness, which only emphasizes the immobility of this frozen space. And forces us to doubt the reality of this object’s existence. The sense of illusiveness is reinforced by the seeming absence of context and the viewer’s desperate desire to comprehend the changes taking place. The deliberate, sometimes inexplicable static nature of the objects placed in the observer’s field of view exacerbates the sense of emptiness and rest. They come to life only in interaction with a man, who is assigned the role of an accidental participant who has only inadvertently activated the secret mechanisms of life. The manifestation of the biological organism’s vital functions desperately demonstrates to us the indifference of the external environment to it.
The objects that become the ‘protagonists’ of the video are right there. Staticity and deliberate objectivity bombard us with the silence and lifelessness of what is happening. What happened to the young man who broke free? Did the darkness of timelessness swallow him up, or did he manage to escape by freeing himself and/or being reborn? No one can answer. Only the experiment will make it possible to understand whether there is a chance to return to a normal life, leaving the museum rooms, or an ultimate impenetrable darkness awaits us behind its doors.
One gets the feeling that The Edge by Nikita Chernoritsky opens a portal for the viewer, allowing him to get temporarily into a strange world that exists only for the beholder. However, it is the viewer, the human being, who is superfluous in this formula. Finding himself in this space, it is he who pulls random objects out of nothingness and animates them by his interaction with them. Nevertheless, it generates not motion, but a disturbance of peace. A serenity that is not connected to the viewer and exists apart from his will. The peace of non-existence.
Across the Void
The forced self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 served as a kind of creative impetus for a number of artists. Nikita Chernoritsky was no exception. Being alone with himself, the artist discovered in this escapism a significant potential of creative energy. Not only did a systematic immersion inside himself become a healing practice for the artist, but it also allowed him to discover new forms of void, a space located deep in the subconscious, a kind of secret room, filled with images and revelations.
In his artistic practice Nikita explores both borderline human states and the very notion of the edge, the limit and what is beyond the line. His project The Edge, a logical continuation of the exhibition Method. The Edge (2018), explores the space into which a person who has reached the limit or deliberately dived into it finds himself. Nikita’s project is characterized by a certain ambivalence contained in the title itself. The Edge is both the expanse beyond the line and the state, having reached it, one is in a different plane of perception of oneself and the surrounding reality. The deaf black space of the background symbolizes the ‘edge’ and encapsulates all of existence, being at the same time absolute nothingness. This space exists outside of time and is devoid of geographic coordinates. At the same time for the artist its existence is beyond doubt. Being on the borderline between the real world and the metaphysical, it settles in the very depths of the subconscious, into which the artist plunges day after day in search of meanings and himself.
Within this space, the viewer encounters objects, as if suddenly plucked by the bright beam of a flashlight from the darkness. They sharply appear on the blank background, like a still frame from a movie. Nikita’s paintings are very corporeal, dense, building on the sharp contrast of light and shadow. His works bear a resemblance to the paintings of Spanish Caravagistas, in particular Jose de Rivera, but lack the exaltation inherent in the latter. On the contrary, they are deadly cold, deliberately devoid of the beat of life. All the figures depicted by the artist are impersonal objects, devoid of their identity. The viewer guesses them through the dense glittering plastic film draping these objects. These compositions are imbued with anxiety and horror, reinforced by the deliberate ruthlessness with which the artist exposes their essence. A series of monochrome trees even more vividly reflects the metaphor of transition into another state, and the subjects of the works balance between nonexistence and permanent presence. Pale, lifeless tree trunks, frozen in darkness, continue to live in spite of everything. Thin as threads, detailed branches resemble a network of blood vessels or cracks, evidence of a slow fading away and destruction. The bony branches of the trees spread out into the black void around them, either shrinking or trying to capture it. Like ancient giants, they silently keep the memory of the past silent, bending under its weight.
Nikita Chernoritsky harmoniously combines the role of the painter and director, which is reflected in the specificity of his artistic language. Nikita’s paintings are in many ways cinematographic, at the same time video works can be seen as a dynamic painting. A series of video installations with a mask echoes the idea of pictorial paintings. For the artist it does not matter who is behind the mask. It depersonalizes them, objectifies them, erases their individuality. Behind each mask the viewer can find himself or, suddenly, the artist himself. And this moment of confrontation with oneself can be extremely painful at times, but always a sobering experience.
Without wishing to name his works, Nikita deliberately refuses the author’s interpretation, leaving this right to the viewer. Everyone can find their own meaning in the work, based only on personal experience, personal associative series and psycho-emotional states. Nikita’s works are funnels, falling into them, we plunge inside ourselves and come face to face with the true self, dwelling in the depths.