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Nikita Kadan : Solo Exhibition “Dancers and Explosions”

Nikita Kadan

Nikita Kadan_A part of “Newborn” project, Installation work, 2023-2024, photo by Dimitri Lanctuit

Nikita Kadan—History and Present

Wakana Kono (Waseda University)

“[H]e was photographing the strange phenomenon, a shining horoscope in the sky, while I, my head swimming in brightness, lay blinded on the ground and limply held up my dream to exposure.”
— Bruno Schulz, “Spring” (translated by Celina Wieniewska)

This is the first exhibition in Japan of works by Nikita Kadan, a leading figure in contemporary Ukrainian art.

In his work, Nikita Kadan draws inspiration from history, and focuses on various aspects of Soviet and Ukrainian history and society. Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, modern warfare has become one of Kadan’s central themes.

Kadan envisions specific events and contrasts them with historical conditions. In the differences and similarities, essential human truths and qualities emerge in poetic and introspective forms. Many of his works feature a complex coexistence of multiple time periods and spaces. “The Objects from Another Place,” created for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale held concurrently with this exhibition, depicts a children’s playground that is forever out of reach, stirring memories of childhood and symbolizing an unobtainable happiness. Its melting figures of spaceship-like playground equipment, reminiscent of Soviet-era playgrounds, represent the death of the Soviet utopia while alluding to the conditions in which Ukrainian children currently spend their youth. Like the protagonists in the stories of his beloved writer Bruno Schulz, Kadan wanders through history in his dreams, his feet firmly planted on the ground and his eyes fixed on distant constellations.

“The Protection of the Joint Share,” which is part of this exhibition, is an object made using a bulletproof vest marked by a gunshot. While evoking the long history of violence against the human body, it juxtaposes contemporary warfare with the historical oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. Kadan’s series “The Dancers and Explosion,” presented for the first time, consists of drawings that intertwine Edgar Degas’ famous painting of a Ukrainian dancer, titled “Russian Dancer,” with the current situation in Ukraine as well as Kadan’s own childhood experiences.

With a bird’s eye view of the present, he continues to explore the fundamental conditions of humanity and society and expresses his findings through art. Kadan: “This is not mankind’s first war. By looking back, it becomes possible to see even ongoing wars as things of the past, and to draw out the power of art to ‘make war history.”


Art Front Gallery
Hillside Terrace A, 29-18 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150-0033
+81 3-3476-4869