Lev Anninsky


Nominally, this is of course abstract art. First, the artist ignores classical perspective and works exclusively on the flat plane; and, second, he ignores classical “content,” that is he does not actually “depict” anything. He thinks in categories of splash and colour, density and rhythm.

However, ineffably and incomprehensibly, his hand that belongs to the real world, to our inescapable community, places the colour splashes on the plane in a way that makes you see that perspective.

He does not want his paintings to be attached to some content-based plot. That, he believes, is the viewer’s own private matter. One can only see whatever one is ready for. An artist’s task is to provide the person with a medium for it, to “loosen” the impenetrable.

This is the chaos of the world, he seems to be saying, but there is a cosmos hidden inside it.

You become aware of the cosmic orderly system of existence, yet you continue to see the elements, the fatal and the unpredictable—the entire textural madness of the chaos. Seeing them comes easy to you, but you can imagine the amount of energy the artist must be expending on the incessant creative transformation of this chaos.

Galina Elshevsky


The abstractions by Nikolai Estis are fraught with a certain historical “genre memory,” due to which his paintings, even without being verbally interpreted, produce a powerful energetic impact on viewers. Their very object-free nature is probably akin to a sort of archetypal prohibition of saying the Name.

Estis is in no way a purely “objectless painter,” he came to this expressive method from figurative compositions. His “abstractions” appear to result from quite particular circumstances; the thought is followed by the “soaring of the thought,” the figurative motifs gradually gain in steadiness and then get reduced to their own concepts.

Elena Zhukov

Nikolai Estishas a happy talent to avoid any artistic styles or trends. The worlds created by him are a unique spiritual substance, and the world-image that he creates is grand and dramatic. Any fragment of the painterly fabric carries the Boundless in itself. The Universe contained in his paintings is the artist’s world extended into the time and space of Art.

Alexander Barash


In the kind of works that we see here, the plot or event attached to an object do not actually represent the “plot event” perceived as habitual in our cultural tradition.

What Estis offers us is the emancipated, purified substance of his own personality. It is the existential event taking place in colour and experienced with the highest possible intensity.

This is the tradition of a kind of art that chooses the Genuine in the human existence for its object. The creative act here coincides with the moment of feeling life at the fullest and becomes the crossing point where the existential reality and the personal history of an individual come together.

Ingeborg Hanssen


Nikolai Estis has developed his own graphic language, which, even though it still contains some elements of the object, is basically defined by purely graphic means: shape, colour, line, and plane.

Anna Tolstov


Nikolai Estis belongs to the breed of self-absorbed autistic creators who managed to take absolutely no notice of the ideological pressure, from which the entire non-conformism has taken its origin.

Throughout half a century, despite all the changes in the life of his country and his own, despite his emigration from Moscow to Hamburg and bereavements, Estis never changed his theme or his idiom. Today, just like decades ago, birds and angels, pilgrims and towers appear on his canvases, springing up from the seemingly chaotic medley of tempera brushstrokes, from the multicoloured semiabstract flickering.

Estis’ art is the art of icon-painting that has overcome all the temptations of modernism and put the devilish Jackson Pollock expressiveness in service to the heavenly world. From those heights the struggle of the official versus the underground seems no more than mundane vanity.

Ninel Ziterov


The fundamental uniting principle of Estis’ works is not so much the motifs themselves as the range of emotional and philosophical problems that the artist is involved with at this or that stage of his creative life. His works are marked by a violent, spontaneous manner of painting, a poignant form, a variety of colour, and free improvisation.

Sharofat Anarkulov


One of most striking features of Nikolai Estis’ art is its serial nature: he creates big cycles united by mood and interior meaning.

Vardvan Varzhapetyan


Compositions. Towers. Figures. Birds. Angels. His cycles have been gradually forming for decades, and you may get lost in any of them—just like in the wood. Or in the life.

Is there a way out of this hopelessness, of this one-pointedness of being? There is hope as the human is finite, but not final. Therefore at any particular moment of life any human is able to become different, to change drastically, to turn upside down or inside out.

Nikolai Estis’ paintings, graphics and drawings reflect his never-ending changing himself, his  search for the self in the labyrinth of the Universe. Luck or failure are equally tragic here. But the life lasts as long as the journey, as long as we can discern the way.