The Ruarts Foundation presents the first solo exhibition by Nootk, a contemporary Russian artist whose style combines the influence of street culture with his interests in the field of illustration and animation. The ‘Gestalt’ project consists of 10 works only completed in 2022 and 2023, although preliminary sketches were made at various times. “I first had the idea to do this personal project a few years ago. I made active preparations and in a month of travel around Asia I drew an entire sketch book. The ideas often occurred spontaneously and the sketches turned out to be lively and expressive. The characters lived in the vibrant colours of Thai cities. But when I got home my backpack ended up in the wash before I checked the pockets. All my sketches turned into paper kasha. The exhibition was postponed indefinitely. Speaking in the language of modern psychotherapy, I understood that without making an exhibition, I would not close this gestalt,” says Nootk.
In addition to supporting permanent site-specific projects by street wave artists such as ARCA, the activities of the Ruarts Foundation are focused on a programme of successive solo exhibitions. These exhibitions, each of them prepared in close collaboration with the author, provide audiences with the opportunity to discover new names and allow the artists themselves to fully realize their ideas. In the space of the Ruarts Foundation Nootk’s protracted story has acquired ‘integrity’, ‘form’ and ‘structure’, that same gestalt.
‘Absurd scenarios’, as the artist himself calls them, represent the intersection of comic and abstract art. Every work is a new life. As well as cartoon characters that often comprise a colourful pattern, an important component of Nootk’s visual language is the line and contour. His first concern is the form and composition, while the subject emerges in the process of creating a sketch.
The works ‘Fool Moon’, ‘Beach Party’ and ‘Sur F’ presented at the exhibition refer to beach parties and hot Thai evenings. “I decided to make an attempt at recreating some of the works from the sketchbook lost in the washing machine,” says Nootk. Striking characters with lively facial expressions maintain the perfect balance of childish surprise and adult mischief.
The largest work at the exhibition is the four-metre panel ‘Wild Style’. According to Nootk, “one form dictated the next, I didn’t even notice how they intertwined in a narrow ribbon. To balance the composition I devised an office space with a checked ceiling and floor, and the subject matter developed as a party in a closed office. The title is a tribute to graffiti culture.”
Street art is a powerful tool for communication and reflection. Nootk supports diversity and experimentation, capturing the spirit of modernity. This intricately intertwined pandemonium of cartoon creatures makes us think about modern society, the artificial nature of the city, and where we are heading – towards a world where we look for a way to preserve the human form.
Nootk (b. 1981, Hungary) is a graphic artist whose style combines the influence of street culture with interests in the field of illustration and the cartoon aesthetics of the 1980s and 90s, known to the public for his vibrant style with characters that often form a colourful pattern. The interplay of straight and smooth lines is a distinctive feature of the Nootk style. In 2005 he graduated from the Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography with a degree in architecture. In 1998 he made his first graffiti; in 2002 he founded the ABC graffiti team and two years later joined the large graffiti collective MDT, before becoming part of the Paint Breakers group and the creative duo Mainstreamers. Since 2011 he has concentrated on solo creativity. Inspired by European graffiti and writers who went beyond the traditional use of fonts, Nootk began working with characters. The unfolding stories are largely autobiographical, with colour changes depending on the mood. “I noticed that every five years I get tired of coloured drawings and for a while do only b/w work, so new forms appear, and subsequently a colour palette,” says Nootk.
The artist actively participates in festivals and projects dedicated to street culture such as the Biennale of Street Art ‘Artmossphere’ (2014, 2016), ARCA (2020), ‘Here and Now’ (2021), etc. He features in the publications ‘Encyclopaedia of Russian Street Art’, ‘Parts of Walls’ and ‘Graffiti-ABC’, and is the author of monumental works in Russia, Spain, Italy, Lebanon and Georgia.