An exhibition by Nika Chernyaeva at Vyksa AiR
In the run-up to her residency in Vyksa, Nika Chernyaeva had been planning to conduct a visual study of the town, and put together its complex portrait using snippets of the visual messages that she found particularly exciting. 'When I was preparing for the trip, I was surprised to find out that the word Vyksa translates as 'flow', 'flux'. Once I arrived here, this 'flow' carried me away completely. Vyksa is an incredibly eclectic town with something to surprise you at every corner: works by contemporary artists; funeral parlours; mermaid beaches; gift certificates for maggots; Eric Bulatov's art gracing the facade of a metallurgical plant; Huggy Wuggy and Kissy Missy; Shortparis and Sergey Lazarev. Not to mention the unicorn, the official symbol of Vyksa adorning its coat of arms. The collage-like quality of this place is off the charts, there are so many things around that you gradually begin to lose touch with reality,' says Nika.

The title Dream Service, too, was brought up by the 'Vyksa flux' – Nika had noticed a sign of the eponymous shop on the facade of the local shopping mall, Babylon, which became one of the protagonists of her works. 'The subject of dreaming seemed indicative of that point in time. So much has been going on in the world lately that it would be way easier to consider the bulk of it a dream. There are so many "services" distracting us from reality that one loses the plot in this cacophony. And while we are looking the other way, they quietly dismantle and remove Angels of Peace from our town squares, as it happened in Vyksa during my stay – this statue was the first thing I painted here, and when the canvas was finished, news came out that it was being taken apart.'

At the final exhibition, visitors will get a chance to pop into the artist's studio and look at her studies, references, notes, sketchbooks, and even the journal that she kept during her stay at the residency. In Nika's paintings, views of the city are taken out of context and reassembled into new spaces. The collage effect was turned up to eleven, and the resulting images are over the top, overindulgent, and at times frightening. Nika's painting style is loud and disturbing: fierce bright colours, fractured compositions, and deliberately bizarre characters and situations. Why is this painting screaming? Perhaps it wants us to wake up – yes, the temptation to be carried away by the information flow is great, but the disappearance of Angels of Peace from city squares is, sadly, not a dream, and you need to look at this new reality as you would at a painting – with your heart and eyes wide open.

Nika Chernyaeva
Nika is a sociologist by training and has worked in mass communications and public relations. In her artistic practice she continues to explore the topic of communicative construction of reality, changing the language of press releases to work with visual images, which are nowadays the most important agents of public opinion formation. The artist observes how contemporary mythology is created and fictional worlds are intertwined with reality, and what role in this process plays that visually oversaturated information environment in which we exist.

Nika Chernyaeva was born and works in Moscow. She graduated from the sociological department of Moscow State University, the Institute for Problems in Contemporary Art and the Free Studio School at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. She studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London and at the Moscow State Academy of Arts and Industry named after S. G. Stroganov. Selected exhibitions: solo - "I'm coming to look for you", curator Andrei Parshikov, JART Gallery, Moscow, 2021; group: "Dreamcast", Lazy Mike Gallery, Moscow, 2021; "Hug and Cry", Sinara Art Gallery, Ekaterinburg, 2021; "Ghostology of Post-Soviet Spaces", HSE Art Gallery, Moscow, 2021 and others.