Nikita Kadan: Limits of Responsibility at Waterside Contemporary
Nestled in a small studio space in Hoxton, most Londoners may not have come across Waterside Contemporary; a visit to their intriguing new exhibition from Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan is a must for those seeking new art projects in the city.
The political violence that engulfed Kadan’s native Kiev in early 2014 forms the backdrop for his latest works. Waterside Contemporary has a clean and spacious environment ideal for showcasing the true imagination of the art on display, and Kadan’s pieces warrant the lingering reflection visitors are afforded here.
There is no focus on the familiar political imagery from news and social media sites during last year’s violence: only a small slideshow documenting photographs of the unrest is offered. Even here it is clear Kadan has shifted emphasis from the central depiction of violence to a discovery of the permanence of nature within the site of uprising. Amid the improvised shelters of pro-democracy activists, Kadan draws our eye to vegetable patches planted by protesters, symbols of the potential for peace and renewal, rooting claim in the battleground.
This interpretation of nature’s disinterested stance at the centre of political disharmony is fascinating. The large central display, modelled on a Soviet pamphlet on how to ideally showcase agricultural achievement, is blank, without the instruction or direction that might be expected, simply disengaged with propaganda.
A highlight for any visitor will be the delicate watercolour drawings that resemble images of anatomy, similar to something in a school science book. Yet closer inspection reveals the merging of roots and leaves within our concrete human bone structure, an encapsulating view of body merging with nature. Kadan succeeds beautifully in portraying the intricate balance, connection and necessity between these two forms.
Physical violence has taken a back seat to the physical nature that thrived within the smoke and fire of central Kiev. The sustenance nature offers activists remains a symbol of resilience, a resilience mirrored in the defiant pursuit of greater freedom.
Kadan offers us a very intimate portrait of the events in his home country that give the exhibition a very personal feel. In the age of repetitive news coverage offering limited angles, this is a must-see for a thought-provoking take on modern international affairs.
Photos: Eddie-Lee Lawrence
Nikita Kadan: Limits of Responsibility is at Waterside Contemporary until 4th April 2015, for further information visit here.