Home Artists Nicolai Lilin

Nicolai Lilin

1980
Bender, Moldova, Republic of

20 Works exhibited on Kooness

Current location

Italy

Works by Nicolai Lilin

Nicolai Lilin, pseudonym of Nikolaj Verzhbitskiy, chosen in homage to the author's mother, Lilia, (in Russian: Николай Вержбицкий?). Born on February 12, 1980 in Bender, Transnistria (an independent state not recognized by the international community, located between Moldova and Ukraine, at the time part of the Soviet Union), he is a Russian writer, tattooist and artist of Siberian origin with Italian citizenship. Lilin comes from a family of Siberian traditions and origins. His ancestors belonged to a large Siberian family of explorers, outlaws, hunters and merchants, who had Russian, Polish, Jewish and German origins.

The novel that brought him to the forefront of the Italian public is Siberian Education, published in 2009 by Einaudi, which tells of the growth and formation of the protagonist within an established criminal community of Siberian origin (Urka Siberiani) settled in Transnistria (a region of Moldova self-proclaimed independent in 1990, but with a status not recognized by the international community).   The book has had a film adaptation in 2013 with the cult film of the same name, under the direction of Gabriele Salvatores and starring John Malkovich (as the grandfather). The first novel by Nicolai Lilin has been published in 28 languages and distributed in 43 countries around the world. He himself stated that his books are novels based on lived experiences.

Other novels: Free Fall (2010), The Breath of Darkness (2011), Stories on the Skin (2012), The Serpent of God (2014), A Carpet of Wild Woods: the World in a Siberian Heart (2015), Spy Story Love Story (2016), Fables Outlawed (2017), The Rebel Brand (2018), The Legends of the Tiger (2019), Criminal Tattoos volume 1 (2020), Putin the Last Tsar (2020).

Very active in the field of television and cinema, he has written for L'Espresso, XL di Repubblica and for other magazines and collaborates with various artists. Since 2013 he has also conducted some television broadcasts and a reportage program on DMAX, a program on Italia 1 dedicated to history and a column on Tgcom24.   

Besides dedicating himself to the writing of novels, Nicolai Lilin is also known and appreciated for his artistic production, in particular drawings, graffiti works on paper, paintings on canvas and reproductions of Orthodox icons, all inspired by the symbolism of tattoos. He has an artistic laboratory in Milan, Kolima Art Studio where he hosts his works always linked to the Siberian tattoo culture. He is also part of the board of Outsiders, an international collective of artists, which aims to bring respect for form back into art, in all its expressions.

The artist has exhibited his works among others at the Milan Triennale, at the Museum of the '900, at the Susan Castle, at MAO in Turin with a solo exhibition that evokes and investigates the world of tattoos, addressed in the recovery of its ancestral meanings, rooted in anthropology, within a path that offers a more conscious interpretation of a phenomenon that has spread to the fashion front, from writing flowed into cinema, from drawing to tattoo, design and fashion.

"I try to put together the symbolic meanings of the Siberian tradition with the balance of the image coming from modern Western aesthetics – said Lilin. There is a need to return to the contents, to the communication of the symbol, which the tattoo marks on the skin over a period of time as long as a man's life”.

Since 2019 he has been collaborating with the Original Multiplo S.r.l art gallery and printing house (formerly Alfeart) in Milan, creating Multiple Originals drawn from tattoos and unpublished images. Some of the artworks were exhibited at the fifth edition of WopArt 2020 work on paper virtual fair, a well-known international fair of ancient, modern and contemporary works of art on paper in Lugano.

His first novel Siberian Education was published in 28 languages ​​and distributed in 43 countries around the world.