one to watch
The meditative practice of Nikolajs Klimovs and the art of letting go
The work of Nikolajs Klimovs expresses cognitive, spatial and color interactions in an abstract form. The choice of paper medium is deliberate, an exercise in letting go of ingrained fears brought on by perfectionism and the need for control, with the shapes being freehand cut and fixed all at once, with no need for marking or rearranging. Nikolajs graduated from the London College of Fashion with a BA 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 launched a career in luxury fashion spanning more than ten years. His latest series Free and fragments, addresses Overcoming psychological problems through subtle abstract expressionist forms.
Tell us who you are and what you do. what is your background
My name is Nikolajs and I have been working in the fashion industry for a very long time and graduated from the London College of Fashion as a menswear designer. I like to do several other projects besides my work, of which art has become a very important and most personal project.
What do you want your work to say? What are the main themes you pursue in your work? Can you provide an example of work that demonstrates this?
I began experimenting with the current medium during lockdown, which also gave me time to reflect on my life journey to date, personal struggles and the emotional environment around me, from those closest to me to society in general. The unobjective expression of this experience is what my art practice seeks to convey. Most of my work deals with fears and letting go, moments when I feel broken, and the idea of facing these challenges alone and in isolation.
Can you explain to us the process of creating a work from start to finish?
First, I sit down for a bit to breathe, focus, and relax. I spin contemporary piano or minimal electronic music and make a cup of coffee. First comes paper selection – color, texture, opacity, and density all play a role in paper choice. I then cut the paper freehand with a scalpel, based on my state of mind that day. This is an important part of the process and alongside challenges, it also allows me to let go of the need to control the outcome in all other parts of my life. I also freehand place and layer all the elements on the board for the same reason. After the paper part is done and dry, other acrylic or pencil elements are sometimes added to accent the piece.
Who are your biggest influences and why?
My absolute favorites are Kazimir Malevich for bringing abstract art to a groundbreaking square conclusion, and Mark Rothko for doing the same for abstract expressionism. They have a perfect symbiotic relationship in my mind where their influence led to the way I experience art today.
How do you comment on current social and political issues with your work?
While neither play is outwardly political, the struggles with mental pressure, isolation, overwhelming fear, and the pressure to control and predict outcomes are pervasive and particularly acute today, when we are acutely aware of these issues, but also in an environment life we live in can easily make it worse. Economic challenges, excessive social media presence, political polarization, societal change, generational gaps, post-facts, and globalization challenges – all of these haunt us across 24-hour news cycles, Twitter alerts, and streaming platforms – I’m just happy having a moment of Finding stillness to think about everything, learn, grow and let go.
How do you hope viewers will react to your work? What do you want them to feel?
I just want them to feel. Someone enjoyed and commented on the paper textures and the calmness of the composition. Someone else told me they understand my issues better after having an incredibly difficult and confidential conversation on an unrelated topic. The viewer’s reaction will likely depend on their experience with the subject and their relationship to it will determine the level at which they can identify with my work. At the same time, a purely abstract subjective response to balance and physicality is equally valuable, coming from a place that may be non-verbal but no less emotional.
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