one to watch
The meditative practice of Nikolajs Klimovs and the art of letting go
Nikolajs Klimovs’ work expresses cognitive, spatial and chromatic interaction in an abstract way. The choice of paper medium is deliberate, an exercise in letting go of ingrained anxieties brought on by perfectionism and the drive to control, with shapes cut freehand and affixed all at once, without markings or rearrangements. Nikolajs graduated from the London College of Fashion with a degree in Fashion Design Technology. Born in Latvia to Russian parents, the artist moved to London in 2004, where he now lives and works. After graduating, he began a career in luxury fashion that spans over a decade. His latest series, Free and fragments, addresses overcoming mental health challenges through subtle abstract expressionist forms.
Tell us who you are and what you do. What is your past? what is your thought?
My name is Nikolajs, and I have been working in the fashion industry for a long time, having finished London College of Fashion as a menswear designer. I like having several other projects that I do outside of my job, of which art became a very important one and the most personal.
What is your work trying to say? What are the main themes you pursue in your work? Can you share an example of a job that demonstrates this?
I began to experiment with the current medium during lockdown, which also gave me time to reflect on my life journey so far, personal struggles, and the emotional environment around me from those closest to me, to society in general. The non-objective expression of that experience is what my artistic practice tries to convey. Most of my work deals with anxiety and abandonment, moments when you feel broken, and the ideas of facing these challenges on your own, in isolation.
Can you explain your process to create a work from start to finish?
I start by sitting down for a bit to breathe, focus and relax. I’ll put on some contemporary piano or minimalist electronic music and make a cup of coffee. First comes paper selection: color, texture, opacity, and density all play a role in the paper you use. Then I will cut the paper with a scalpel, freehand and guided only by the state of my mind during the day. This is an important part of the process and allows me, in addition to the challenges, to let go of the need to control the outcome in all other parts of my life. I also position and overlay all items on the board freehand, for the same reason. Once the paper part is complete and dry, there are sometimes additional acrylic or pencil elements that accent the piece.
Who are your biggest influences and why?
My absolute favorites are Kazimir Malevich for bringing a pioneering square-shaped conclusion to abstract art, and Mark Rothko for doing the same with abstract expressionism. They have a perfect symbiotic relationship in my head where the culmination of their influence resulted in the way I experience art today.
How do you comment on your work on current social and political issues?
While none of the pieces are ostensibly political, struggles with mental pressures, isolation, overwhelming anxiety, and the pressure to control and predict outcomes are universal and especially acute today, where we are hyper-aware of these issues but also live in an environment that can easily exacerbate them. Economic challenges, social media overexposure, political polarization, social change, generation divide, post-truth, and globalization challenges all follow us through 24-hour news cycles, Twitter notifications, and platforms. of transmission. I’m happy. to find a moment of respite to reflect on everything, learn, grow and let go.
How do you expect viewers to respond to your works? What do you want them to feel?
I just want you to feel. I have had someone enjoying and commenting on the textures of the paper and the tranquility of the composition. Someone else said they understood my topics better after having an incredibly difficult and intimate conversation about an unrelated topic. Viewers’ reaction will likely depend on the experience they have had with the subject, and their relationship with it will determine the level to which they might relate to my work. At the same time, a purely abstract subjective reaction to balance and the physicality of it is just as valuable, coming from a place that is perhaps non-verbal, but no less emotional.
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