Kuk Art | Contemporary Russian Art

Critic Reviews

“If we are talking about their generation, I should rank Kuk and Lidia Kirillova with mythologists of the sixties such as Aleksandr Kharitonov, Boris Sveshnikov, Vladimir Pyatnitsky, Vladimir Kovenatsky, Boris Kozlov. Kuk’s art is inspired by Sæmundur the Learned’s Poetic Edda. The severe romance of German-Scandinavian mythology opens the door to universal mystics and metaphysics. There is no difference for the artist through which door he enters the eternity.”  - Yury Mamleev, writer

“When you ask Kuks to describe their creative method, they refer to the genius Russian avant-garde artist, Pavel Filonov, who required “maximum of analytical artificiality” from art. Kuks add semiotics & symbolic perception to Filonov’s “maximum”. According to them, signs are the stars of the sense, shining for those whose conscience rises above the ordinary and perceptible, and rushes to world’s sub conscience, where ideas rhyme with the sky and dance fancifully and rhythmically. Fancy – is the determinative theme of the Kuks creative works, rhythmical key to harmony. Their ornamental patterns are from the ancient ethnography. From ancient Egypt to Russian lubok. Side by side with freedom of mischievous humor and even malice, Kuks’ messages are full of magical solemnity. Kuk paints every picture for years with utter purpose. For example, the artist worked over the program refined painting Wasps for eight years. There are 18 (!) pictorial layers interweaved with each other, fulfilled in different techniques.” - Stanislav Aidinyan, art-critic

NIKOLAY KUK Amsterdam Whitney Gallery Press Release

“STARLIT INCANDESCENCE”                                                            MAY 1 – JUNE 16, 2015

Wassily Kandinsky declared; “Every work of art is the child of its age and, in many cases, the mother of our emotions. It follows that each period of culture produces an art of its own which can never be repeated.” Russian artist Nikolay Kuk’s provocatively expressionist, nonconformist mixed media creations are empowered by this concept. Reflective of the Soviet Era culture, there is inherent subversion in every form and angle, channeling the tensions of the time into a new, modern era. This blending of style and culture helps to create something utterly unique, exuding defiant energy and boldness, challenging the viewer’s perceptions of culture and art. By conveying images that range from simple to dramatic, Mr. Kuk encapsulates the human spirit and its journey through life by employing movement and ever-shifting colors.  Capturing a moment in a shape is both a beautiful and a dangerous struggle; his compositions emblematize a struggle reflective, in some ways, of many experiences common to all of us in our lives.

In creating complex texture with his usage of color, Nikolay Kuk demonstrates his painterly expertise, ultimately taking each work into a whole new realm. Employing a scheme of vivid colors and bold contrasts, he creates an emotional mood, uniting organic figures with specific textural enhancements.  The overtly patterned surfaces add a depth of experience to each sculpture and relief, lending them the illusion of being almost flesh and bone themselves. Each figure and image calls to mind the idea of long lost fairy tales with their dark settings and vibrant characters, teasing the viewer into following them deeper into the forest of their narrative. This combination of organic shapes with textural enhancements and scintillating hues invokes profound feelings within the viewer, demanding attention and response. Mr. Kuk’s work refuses to be ignored, enchanting and utterly irrepressible.

Using the Russian lubok as an ornamental pattern further emphasizes the influences Nikolay Kuk incorporates into his work, adding a sense of cultural heritage and timelessness to his pieces. The blending of colors and shapes lends itself to observation, passing along meaning and understanding through a complex visual discourse that eschews preconceived notions of art and structure by creating something new and unique, allowing for every viewer to have a distinct and different impression. Drawing on a keen eye and a reservoir of life experiences to transform seemingly separate and individual components into works that touch the viewer, the artist succeeds in creating transformative ,  unique works that combine artistic stimulation with the portrayal of the essential beauty and mystery of life.

Wildly masterful and creative, Nikolay Kuk’s cultural influences along with his natural, painterly expertise shine through, creating something sublime in scope. Mr. Kuk’s work has been exhibited and collected all over the Western world for over forty years. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery is proud to highlight this contemporary master.


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