Portrait photography and interview by BARTE.
Formidable Magazine caught up with London’s new art scene rising star, Nika Neelova, just before her solo show at Vigo Gallery.
Formidable. What was your first creative drive?
Nika. When I was a child, I used to collect thousands of oddly shaped chestnuts and stones and arrange them in incredibly large compositions or archives, or make special display structures for them… I think that notion of endless repetition is still present in my work today.
F. What gets you to do art these days?
N. I believe it is a continuous sense of enquiry into objects, materials, situations, histories, events, and a certain urge to reflect on and reinterpret these histories and events, thereby also attaching my own history to the histories of elsewhere.
F. Inspirational artists?
N. Miroslaw Balka, Gabriel Orozco, Douglas Gordon
Formidable. How would you define your work?
N. My work aims at creating present forms for selected narratives from the past and suggesting hypothetical futures for instants of the present. It often brings up fragments of architecture, attributed to various histories, decontextualising them and often rendering them redundant through their material transformation. I am interested in exploring the notion of the ruin, thereby addressing segments of existence that have or will collapse, distantly referencing the disillusionement and the disintegration of utopias that ensues from their confrontation with reality. Often reminiscent of the past, the pieces are also presupposing a future in which this present shifts into a state of disrepair.
F. What’s in your playlist?
F. What film is your your life like?
N. Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia… if you add some elements of thriller to it. But then the making of each of my works is like a horror movie in itself…
F. How is a day in the life of Nika Neelova?
N. Absolutely deprived from any sense of routine. It can start at the British Library or National Gallery and end up in a remote demolition site, where I would be uprooting rotten floors and tearing out broken staircases.
F. Best and worst night out?
N. Best – when my piece sold at Christie’s charity auction, all profits going in support of Crisis – a charity for homeless people in the UK.
Worst – Burning sugar all night in the backyard of my art academy, trying to finish an installation, consisting of thousands of floor tiles and a spiral staircase made of burnt sugar, on time for the degree show…
F. What do you love and hate about London?
N. I am tempted to say, sometimes I love everything about London! I love its art scene, its architecture. I love how dynamic and contrasted the city is.
I hate… the confusing house numbering system.
F. Our motto is “A life less ordinary”, what makes life less ordinary?
N. The obvious answer for me would probably be ‘art’… Although I don’t believe life is ordinary to begin with, I think every object, every place, every encounter contain their own intrinsic magic, and everything can be fascinating depending on one’s attitude towards it.
Portrait photography by BARTE.
1. The Night Also Falls, 2010. Charcoal, burnt timber, ash. 100cm (d) x 250cm (h). Young Gods, Charlie Smith London. Private Collection London
2.Histories of Deception, 2011. Antique banisters, ash, latex, steel, graphite dust. 4m (l) x 1m (w) x 2m (h) Dimensions variable with installation. Monuments, Charlie Smith London. Private Collection London
3.Relics, 2011. Narwhal tusks cast in plaster with ivory black pigment, reclaimed timber branded with chain. Dimensions variable with installation. Reworking Memories, Federica Schiavo Gallery. Courtesy Federica Schiavo Gallery
4. An End for an End, 2011. Rope cast in paper and ink, burnt reclaimed timber. Involuntary Fractions, Jarmuschek + Partner Gallery, Berlin. Museum Biedermann Collection
5. Other Shores, 2011. 1911 oar cast in plaster and pigment, rope; each 2.90high. Involuntary Fractions, Jarmuschek + Partner Gallery, Berlin. Museum Biedermann Collection
6. Nothing can occur but once, 2012. Graphite and marble dust, plaster. 2m (l) x 1m (d) x 1.5m (w). Recasting the Gods, SumarriaLunn Gallery, London
7. 7A. Scaffold Today, Monument Tomorrow… 2012. Rope cast in paper and ink, reclaimed burnt timber. 4m (l) x 1.5m (w) x 2m (h) Dimensions variable with installation. Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union, Saatchi Gallery London. Saatchi Gallery Collection. Images courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery
8. 8a. Principles of Surrender, 2012. Bell clappers from the Whitechapel bell foundry cast in wax and ash, reclaimed burnt timber, rope. 3m (l) x 1.5m (w) x 2.5m (h), Dimensions variable with installation. ‘Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union’, Saatchi Gallery London. Saatchi Gallery Collection. Images courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery
9. 9a. Partings, 2012. Somerset House Georgian six panel door cast in concrete, reclaimed burnt timber, rope. 5m (l) x 4m (w) x 3m (h) Dimensions variable with installation. The Crisis Commission, Somerset House & Christie’s London. Photography courtesy Sam Mellish & Crisis. David Roberts Art Foundation Collection.
10 & 11. The Entire Earth Behind it, 2012. Parquet floor cast in concrete, reclaimed timber. 4m (l) x 3m (w) x 2m (h) Dimensions variable with installation. The Future Can Wait, Victoria House, London. Beckers Collection.