In writing about Nikita Alexeev, it is tempting to try and rise to his level of intelligence to explain the work, but this could be counter-productive. Though he has managed to create the most simple language in painting, it is not a language of explanations. As he writes in the catalogue, ‘a language is not only a way to express certain ideas some structured phonemes, but a way of thinking.’ He is not interested in glib attempts to explain the world, rather he feeds us glancing blows at understanding. ‘This all comes from the man who is probably the most lucid artist to have come out of Moscow Conceptualism.
Alexeev is treated fairly in the survey of recent Russian art, The Family Tree of Russian Contemporary Art, which is at the core of the Garage’s new program in Moscow. Alexeev has been the most consistent and coherent of the Conceptual artists. When in 1991, Andrew Solomon tried to give an idea of the changes in Russian contemporary art in The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost, the voices of Kabakovs and Erik Bulatov and many others were heard, but the most quoted was Nikita Alexeev.
There are three series of paintings in this show: Landscapes in Three Languages, Disappearing Landscapes and Tablecloths in the Wind. There is a common thread in all three of ‘misunderstanding/understanding.’ Alexeev has taken painting to pieces and is building it up in front of our eyes. Like any other language, he uses painting as a trigger, only a fraction of the communication comes in the actual vocabulary, the words or brush strokes.