One of the main characteristics of truly relevant contemporary art is its ability to analyse, dissect, invent, and function through something that we will call category X. Category X is a wide range of the unknown, the impossible, the unattainable, the incomprehensible, the unprecedented, and then a wide range of similar apophatic characteristics. Truly relevant contemporary art, if it is really relevant, contemporary, and art, always has a zone of consideration for what is not there (category X). This is due to the fact that contemporary art, in most cases, is in conflict with the present (in a broad sense) or some aspect of the present. It can be a conflict of acceptance, a mild conflict, or a metaconflict, but it is always a critical position. The most interesting contemporary artists define themselves through the formulation of the zone of the impossible in their art. The more clearly and consciously this position is articulated, the more interesting the figure of the artist himself seems to us.
Nikita Sobolev“s category X is the impossible as a goal, the impossible as a future, and the impossible as the removal of repressive layers from such a simple thing as a view of the world. In his digital works, Nikita analyses how the optics of a single individual view is refracted and mutated, quiets and is flooded with emotions, is transformed, and remains unchanged under the influence of freer and less xenophobic value bases of the artist”s figure. His graphic works are a complex fusion of breaking binary dichotomies and challenging positions in object-oriented ontology. Human bodies lose their boundaries under the influence of the gaze. Human bodies become plastic vacuoles, deformed pieces of matter, transformed into something posthuman in the focus of X-ray radiation. As a secular mystic, Nikita Sobolev overcomes the boundaries between objects, but not for speculative and manipulative purposes but for aesthetic and socially progressive purposes. The main subject of Nikita“s works is freedom and the fullness of emotions. Each of his works is a disclosure of various facets of these ephemeral and often unattainable states. The artist”s impossible is not some kind of perfect pink world of furry cats, but the concreteness of our reality minus the alluvial phenomena. This conscious abolitionism is also expressed not only in the plot component of Nikita Sobolev“s works but also in expressive means: a restrained palette, a minimum of 1 or 2 compositional centres of attraction, the absence of artistic fuss, clarity. However, the external asceticism of the works hides the artist”s desire to depict real human diversity. So craving for the impossible becomes a direct political act. Nikita“s works do not shout, but persistently speak out. Nikita”s works are extremely clear and eloquent, but at the same time mysterious and full of that traditional paradox that we remember and love from Zen koans, strange statements of Sufis, or the extremely laconic libretto of Buto dancers.Nikita’s works are not defiantly bright, but they attract the eye. They broadcast the unique optics of the artist and provoke us to study them and argue with them.
Nikita Sobolev is an amazing example of how excellent artistic skills, a sophisticated language of utterance, and a mysterious and alluring philosophical (political and aesthetic) position can be perfectly combined in one artist.