Nikita Golubev scrapes the dirtiness until producing a work of art. Turning dirt into real art. While this Russian artist paints in oils, he has become famous through other less conventional works, the ones he creates atop the dirty hoods of cars and trucks. The layer of dust and dirt that accumulates on vehicles usually yields drawings or messages: people use their fingers to write such profound sentiments as “An idiot reads this” or “Dirty Pig.” Sometimes, if the urban artist in question feels really inspired, he will also trace a silhouette, often obscene…
But that’s not the case with Nikita. His works, which he calls dirty paintings, are authentic pieces of art. They are original but not unique; . Scott Wade, who was doing something similar, was known as the Da Vinci of dust. Another of Nikita’s influences are street artists. By aesthetics and messaging, he’s close to a street art great like Banksy. But his work is far less profitable. And it doesn’t help that it is so ephemeral, because dirty cars always end up in a car wash sooner or later.
Street artists are accustomed to having their works erased or vandalized, that’s part of the game. But when they can disappear because of the wind or a light rain, that’s something very different. That’s why Nikita photographs his works and posts them on social media. On Facebook he has more than 15,000 followers. On Instagram, 114,000.
How does it do this?
Nikita usually works with just some gloves, although sometimes he employs large paint brushes. It takes him between 30 and 45 minutes to produce a work, and sometimes more if he uses paper sketches before going into the street in search of dirty cars. He usually does so at dawn.
Because he works so early, the owners of the dirty cars discover the artwork when it’s finished. Although once they surprised him when he was painting a truck. Its driver liked the result so much that he asked the artist to do it again, only this time with real paints. Nikita thinks that’s normal, because many of the vehicles that form his canvases are not washed for long periods.
Nikita earns his living as an illustrator, but he gives away the best of his work to drivers who aren’t especially clean. In spite of often travelling to Europe, he creates only in Russia. This is not because of any nationalistic concern or because he wants a break when he travels overseas: he claims that nowhere in the world has he found such dirt as in Russia, which provides the best raw material. The layer of dust that accumulates on cars there is thick, which makes those dirty vehicles a real ‘blank’ canvas. He attributes this to contamination and the antifreeze that is applied to the roads. The result is a viscous layer of dust that drivers don’t like. But an advantage for someone who wants to paint on it.