Solo exhibition by Nikita Kadanwaterside contemporary, London
In the background of Nikita Kadan’s recent oeuvre are 2014’s events in Independence Square in Kiev, the artist’s native city. As clashes between anti-government protesters and state forces turned the maidan (square) into a battlefield – emblematic of Ukraine’s most intractable time in recent history – the artist documented the barricades, fires, and shelters erected by the pro-democracy activists in a series of photographic slides.
Amongst the remains of monuments, the rubble, and the improvised homesteads, are vegetable patches – small gardens of cabbage, onions and lettuce planted by protesters in the contested ground. As nature epitomises the potential for renewal and metamorphosis, the produce of this occupation of the maidan’s ground contributes to the sustenance of the activists, and roots their claim deep into the soil.
While the views in the slideshow are familiar from news sites and social media, Kadan’s view of the maidan is not restricted to documentation and repetition. In a series of watercolour drawings that at first glance resemble traditional horticultural and anatomi- cal textbooks, the artist intertwines plant bodies with human ones, nature with architecture. objects that do not connect naturally here gradually dissolve into one another: bones merge with roots, leaves with concrete forms.