Nikita Sobolev: View, Borders, Destruction, Restoration
Contemporary digital art is engaged in solving and researching a wide range of tasks and problems. One of such issues is the exploration of sexuality and gender identity. This is the representation of optics and strategies, the development of patterns and algorithms of survival, the creation of various environments and mediums, as well as specific actions of struggle. Contemporary artists working with these themes engage in expanding the spectrum, imagining the boundaries and seeking self-discovery, reinventing their artistic ego, and balancing between the secluded production of a unique artistic voice and the endeavor of open and collaborative participation in a group, creating or disseminating a desired reality. It is a highly complex and commendable intention that can be expressed both through life-affirming practices and specific gallery activities of talented individuals.
Nikita Sobolev
Nikita Sobolev is an excellent contemporary digital artist who crafts and maintains his artistic identity with great care. He constantly invents and reinvents his art style by pushing the boundaries of his themes, from exploring signs to the blurring of human boundaries, from depicting the effects of information overload to invoking fear in the hegemony of conformity. His works are often described as vibrant, glitchy, and thought-provoking, and they utilise text or references to VHS cassettes, thermal imagers, and X-rays as part of their appeal. Through direct appeal, deformed human figures, and the aesthetics of aggressive inscriptions in the urban landscape, Sobolev evokes themes of the struggle for visibility, understanding of identity, body, sexuality, belonging, culture, and stigmas.
Undoubtedly, Nikita Sobolev draws inspiration from the practices of American artists such as Jim French, Xavier Cortada, and many others. However, Sobolev's works lack deliberate gloss and some level of universality; they are more low-fi, as if made using default styles of a pirated version of Adobe Photoshop; they are more casual, yet simultaneously intimate and touching.

Identity (or body) in the works of Nikita Sobolev is an unknown territory; it is a disputed territory; it is a captured territory; it is a selected territory. And to return (or assign, or feel for the first time), Nikita Sobolev needs to constantly update the geodetic and administrative markings on this territory. As in the urban environment of some large metropolises, we constantly see these obsessive signs: Stop! Bicycles are prohibited! and in the works of Nikita Sobolev we constantly see various inscriptions, exhortations, and appeals. It is as if the artist reproduces the strategy of subjugating the identity and the body to himself.

The artist fairly honestly shows the strengths and weaknesses of this strategy. We can appropriate our body and identity, but are we ready to do this by reproducing the patterns of the discourse of a repressive urban environment? Probably not. But behind this honest defeat hides something more important than the report of this defeat of the artist-researcher, behind this honest defeat lies the hope that we will be able to invent a more environmentally friendly, gentle and non-violent way of interacting with ourselves. Nikita Sobolev seems to be telling us to go through your defeats to true hope. This cruel world functions through pain, but who are we not to hope for the best? And this is not an infantile dream but a specific method of self-art-therapy. In this sense, Nikita Sobolev is a comforter artist. At first glance, he gives us only a bitter truth pill, but this bitter truth pill has an invigorating side effect.

Anna Brown