Nikolai was born in 1958 in the Ssratov region, southeast of Moscow. He was educated at the art school there before being accepted as a student at the nautical school in Kerch, near the Black Sea. Military service in Kiev followed, before he returned south to Krasnodar, for a period studying art architecture.
In 1982 he moved to Kostomuksha, a town in Karelia in the northwest region of Russia, near the border with Finland. In 1986 the first, very successful, exhibition of his work took place. This led to his being invited to exhibit widely in Russia. Subsequent exhibitions have brought recognition and appreciation of his work, establishing him as an important artist. As a result he moved to St Petersburg, the artistic centre of Russia.
His range of experience has had an important influence on his art. At present he prefers to work in oil, mainly painting figurative work, sometimes on canvas and, more usually, on the boards that he has previously used as his palettes. These boards are rubbed down, but the underlying patterns, shapes and colours are used as an inspiration for the new pictures.