Nadezda Nikolova: Unique Works solo exhibition on view at HackelBury Fine Art

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Nadezda Nikolova: Unique Works solo exhibition on view at HackelBury Fine Art
Elemental Forms, Landscape Rearticulated no. 12, 2020 © Nadezda Nikolova / Courtesy HackelBury Fine Art London.

LONDON.- HackelBury Fine Art, London is presenting Unique Works, a solo exhibition of work by Nadezda Nikolova in which the artist seeks to capture a singular sense of oneness and universal connectivity in her work through multi-layered compositions. The exhibition opened on February 4th, and will continue through April 1st, 2023.

Nikolova’s profound love of nature and concern about the detrimental human impact on the environment is a recurring theme. There is a palpable sense of loss and fragility in her work in which she expresses a desperate plea for change and for “a radical shift in collective values in the way we live our lives and coexist on this planet.”

“I believe that we need to create new templates for how we relate to ourselves, to one another, to the living planet.” - Nadezda Nikolova

However, Nikolova’s belief in humanity and a deep sense of spirituality provide hope, expressed through her desire to reimagine the landscape. She deconstructs the landscape, creating “frames of perception”- the reimagining of the new possibilities articulated through her compositional use of openings, portals and doorways.

“My work becomes a portal to place outside of space and time… the work aims to evoke mystery and awe, inviting contemplation and stillness, so that on some level, it speaks to beauty and hope.”- Nadezda Nikolova

Throughout her work, there is a fascination with balance and harmony of contrasts - the balance between positive and negative space, movement and stillness, definition and gesture, solidity and softness, static and fluid shapes, etc.

“I have always been intrigued by the idea of finding beauty and balance in apparently opposite, disparate or contrasting phenomena. I believe that the recogniton of beauty and our search for beauty speaks to our yearning for hope.”- Nadezda Nikolova

Nikolova’s search for beauty in all its guises is deeply felt. John Keats’s phrase “‘Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.’ - that is all. Ye know on earth, all ye need to know” in his Ode on a Grecian Urn resonates strongly with her. Through her work she seeks that which is always true, the essence of life, that which remains and is permanent, is innate and sacred.

“In my work, I seek to approach this essence as I experience and reflect on the landscapes, the forces that shape it, the energetic confluences and imprints, in the play between light and dark.”

Using wet plate collodion chemistry, paper masks, and light, Nikolova creates photogram silhouettes working with a complex set of variables and the precise timing of exposure and development – factors which fundamentally determine the outcome. Her compositions are built incrementally using multiple exposures to create a layering in which time is suspended and becomes almost elastic. This speaks to her interest in the notion of everything existing in constant flux - cycles of nature and elasticity of forms as they transform and metamorphise over time. Her process and compositions may be seen as a metaphor for illuminating the dark. “The idea that nothing can ever change unless it is first exposed to the light.”- Nadezda Nikolova

As Nikolova’s landscapes become more abstract so her gaze shifts further outward and becomes more esoteric and spiritual to consider the cosmos, embodiment and alchemy.

“I have been steeped in metaphysical and mystical teachings in the last five years and these insights naturally flow into my artwork and the way I create, as they permeate every other aspect of my life.”

“My work is about training oneself to notice that leaf, the quality of light, the shape of the mountain.”

Nadezda Nikolova (b. 1978, former Yugoslavia) is a Croatian-Bulgarian-American photographic artist working with wet plate collodion photograms – a historical technique dating back to the 1850s which uses light-sensitive salts to cover a glass plate before exposing it to the light in a darkroom. Her practice is informed by an experimental approach to early photographic processes and her interest in the image as an object.

Captivated by the fluidity of wet plate collodion, she manipulates the medium while simultaneously courting chance intrinsic to handmade photography:

“I spray, dab and brush on the chemistry in a performative enactment rather than an image capture. (Sometimes, the brush strokes leave physical marks on the emulsion.) In essence, I am negotiating with the chemistry, guiding it. But only to a point. The chemistry has a say in the final image.”
- Nadezda Nikolova

The abstract landscape series, Elemental Forms, Landscapes and Elemental Forms, Landscape Rearticulated, emerged as the artist’s direct response to her surroundings and to feeling a sense of well- being and security within the landscape. She believes that each locale has its specific identity, history, and emotional imprint.

Nadezda Nikolova studied 19 th century photographic printing processes at the University of Kentucky and the George Eastman Museum. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science& Conservation and a Master’s degree in Policy Analysis. She currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

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