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"The world chased, but never caught me" . This phrase of the famous Ukrainian philosopher Grigory Skovoroda illustrates very well the life path and creativity of Nikolai Yakovlevich Novikov, Kolya Novikov, as many people in Odessa have called him. Being outside any system, professing his values and his philosophy of being, balancing between bohemia and the criminal world, walking on a thin edge of extraordinary talent and madness, stubbornly cutting off the superfluous, secondary, focusing on the main thing in his life - to create, to draw! - this was the way of development of this artist's skills. As Novikov wrote about himself «... my only goal is painting. This is my last hope: to draw, write and delight. I really want with all my soul to be useful in art". Unfortunately external forces too often interfered in the life of the artist... 

Nikolai's childhood can shed light on his future protesting, anti-social stance... His mother died in 1942, according to contemporaries of the artist at the stake from the hands of the Nazis, and indeed we often meet a female figure in the flames in his work. His father returns from the war without both legs, moving on pads begs at railway stations, and eventually dies of drunkenness.... Kolya's younger sister does not survive either, dying in an orphanage from an unknown disease... The future artist and his brother balancing on the verge of survival are forced as children to gain experience in thievery... As a result, Kolya's brother chooses the criminal path, and this is one of the reasons why there is so much criminal symbolism in the artist's paintings...Kolya Novikov's creativity is a reflection of his fate, his character.

Homeless by choice, living without a passport and often without means of subsistence, unrecognized during his lifetime, Nikolay Novikov is an absolutely original phenomenon in the history of the Ukrainian art, the scale and uniqueness of which has already swayed minds and hearts of many European viewers and art collectors. It is not for nothing that many famous art critics call him the Ukrainian Egon Schiele, and Novikov himself considered himself a follower of Van Gogh's philosophy....

The gallery “Galerie Les Noms” organises exhibitions of Nikolai Novikov in European countries in order to introduce the viewer to the diversity of Ukrainian art that goes beyond the usual limits of perception, created absolutely independently, resisting the oppression of the system...just as Ukraine is now fighting for its independence, this artist did not let himself be captured by the framework of the USSR system, the framework of everyday life and socially approved standards. A madman, a rebellious genius, a marginal, a holy fool or even a prophet? Everyone will see something different in these works, but they are all united by one thing - Nikolai Novikov's gift as a fine draughtsman who possessed a line of rare beauty and expressiveness.

Curator Mariia Volina

Organizers of the exhibition: Galerie Les Noms (Ukraine), M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art

Opening on 27th of January at 2 p.m.

The event is open to the public and will be filmed and photographed. By attending the event you agree to be featured in photographs and videos of the event and are informed that these photographs and videos may be made public.

The exhibition is open: 27 01 2024 – 31 03 2024