Nikolai Makarov - painter of silence and contemplation

Text by Jürgen Schilling

In the mid-1970s, the family of Nikolai Makarov, who was born in Moscow in 1952, moved to East Berlin, the capital of the former GDR. There he studied history at the Humboldt University. This was followed by several years of training at the Academy of Arts in the GDR, which Makarov, who had already taught himself and worked as an artist in his Russian homeland, completed in 1987.

In those years he made the decision - encouraged by the Austrian painter Rudolf Hausner - to use acrylic-based paints instead of the oil paints he had previously favored, which - diluted with water - enabled him to superimpose those subtle glazes that combined to form a smooth color skin that make his paintings so haunting and unmistakable. Already works from his student days got him attention; later museum and gallery exhibitions should make his original work known worldwide.

Makarov lives in Berlin, completely focused on his work. Nikolai Makarov is primarily an innovative figurative painter and a qualified connoisseur of the art of the European Old Masters. However, he is increasingly able to transform his ideas for his images of people, deeply felt landscapes and buildings, which are based on real events or fleeting impressions, into the transcendent by transforming his motifs into a diffuse - mainly based on various transparent red, blue and dark brown tones - embeds color and brightens only a few prominent parts of the image.

In this way he reduces his motifs to the appearance of their existence. This procedure consciously impairs the direct, clear view of the pictorial motif, but it encourages a closer look, to enter a world that Makarov subjectively interprets. Basically, the painter strives for an illustration of the non-material, cosmic and, without negating the real origin of his statement, transfigures what he sees into the imaginative. He manages to let his own spirituality flow into the depiction and to sensitize the imagination of the recipient in such a way that he leaves everyday turbulence, acoustic and optical noise behind and immerses himself in a singular pictorial atmosphere suggesting calm, stillness and harmony.

Through concentrated perception and immersion in what is seen, experience and contemplative introspection merge, which are able to evoke inner visionary images, associations and fantasies. The meditative, melancholic mood of his impressive paintings and expansive installations is due on the one hand to Makarov's nuanced painting technique; In addition, the inner life of a deeply sensitive artist personality is revealed here, who reflects on the developments in his environment with skepticism and proposes practicable solutions from his point of view, because you “have to make people think, make them aware of the contradictions that make up everything and which was and is always my starting point; the duality of life and death, of light and night.”

This ideal may have been a reason for founding his >Museum der Stille< on the outskirts of the bustling center of Berlin, where he combines his own works with the spatial architecture of important architects, whose theme aims to present his works as spaces of silence and where time really seems to stand still.

Jurgen Schilling