Уяви Україну – Мистецтво як критичне ставлення / Imagine Ukraine – Art as a Critical Attitude
The Beautiful Coloniser / Прекрасний колонізатор, 2020
With the painting The Beautiful Coloniser, Nikita Kadan raises questions on whether, within the history of Ukraine, one can see the Soviet period as colonialist, and on how relevant it is to look at the post-Soviet era of Ukraine through a post-colonial lens. Kadan not only reflects on his own struggling with culture, descent and patriotism, but above all on how the post-revolutionary reinterpretation of the Soviet past and the manipulation of historiography affects the collective memory of Ukraine. He wants to expose the legacy of the Soviet Union and examine its impact on recent developments in Ukraine.
Kadan often quotes books on Ukrainian social life, on past and present political propaganda and on art history. The Beautiful Coloniser is based on a picture of a 17th century statue from Benin found in a Soviet book on African art. As might be expected, the book was written from an anti-colonial perspective. The depicted coloniser is an iconic figure with long hair and beard. Kadan turns him into a communist by painting a communist star on the helmet. The helmet recalls some helmets of the Red Army and at the same time looks like an Orthodox church dome. Such contradictions are characteristic of Kadan's oeuvre, which oscillates between past and present, official state art and avant-garde, nationalism and internationalism.