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Reviews of artworks
Kocharina Lyubov
art historian of Kurgan regional Art Museum

About seventy paintings and drawings of solo exhibition of young Novosibirsk painter filled one of the lightest halls of Kurgan Regional Art Museum. Light summer is a good time for exhibitions. A graduate of Novosibirsk Art School Natalia Shalagina prefers landscape. Starting with sketches made when she was a student, written by not sured hand and to bright pictures of the last years she is interested with alive colored world around us.
— Feedback of the exhibition’s visitors with thanks "for positive bright impressions" appeared in the "book of reviews" on the first day. Indeed, at the exhibition are dominated cheerful, bright large-size landscapes dedicated to winter snow-covered beauty - "Waxwing", the blooming glow of May nature — "Spring", the solar awe of autumn golden leaves in the high blue sky — "Alone autumn".

This world is filled with chirping waxwings, chirping magpies and businesslike "dialogue" of crows, and it returns us, urban residents, been tired of daily bustle "out of nature", back to nature, by the simplest way.

Love and somewhere respectful attention to nature is one of the most important and encouraging features of Natalia Shalagina's painting. It win at seascapes, and in portraits of "Grandmother" and "Grandfather", and in large compositions "Village yard" and "Snow", and in the early etude "Bridge".

Living in land of plenty, warm and generous place the painter’s grandmother and grandfather are native representatives of Kuban Cossacks. Perhaps the southern blood that flows in Natalia’s veins, gave her decorative-bright and sonorous sense of color, which affects especially in the artworks, echoing with the favorite miriskusnikov’s artworks — with theatrical sketches of Golovin, Bakst, Bilibin compositions. Small picturesque sketches in the window - "Southern poplar", "Sochi", "Pansies" — appeared under the impression of a great journey across the southern cities, they are elegantly and boldly harmonized in color, and the brightness of the southern nature partly provokes an appeal to another technique, opposite to painting. This drawings-only three colors: paper color-golden or gray, black-charcoal or pencil and white-tempera. In the drawing series "Sochi" the painter is fascinated by the combination of romantic architectural forms — arches, turrets, balconies and exotic southern flora — slender cypresses, lush" touchy", flowering bushes. Expressive play of line and spot, texture, creating the effect of 18th - 19th century engravings. The culture of drawings opens up new opportunities for the author and a variety of her style preferences.

In the series "Ataman" a painter shows different style in composition, in the structure of the sheet. This is an open-air Museum in Krasnodar region, on Taman peninsula. Kuban Cossack culture Museum allows our contemporaries to go back a hundred years, or more, and imagine this now lost way of life, this special way of life, subordinated to the natural cycle of seasons changing and to its strict regulations... Apparently, something stirred and responded in the soul of the artist, may be the memory of her ancestors suggested structure and intonation of the sheets of new series: drawing is lively and "talkative", discreet. The whole series is like a walk through a large living village: at first glance from afar, then through the bridge through the ravine and before us is showing the village life... Impressions from the Museum were enough for two series of "Ataman".

In creative trips, meetings, impressions the painter finds themes for her new artworks, but also it is a reason for searching new forms, techniques, new language — more expressive, emotional. It is interesting to observe the evolution of pictorial style.

In the landscape "Winter evening" 2009 glare-bright contrasting colors, ringing contrasts of light and shadow are made with such freedom and even delight, from which the painter and the other viewers are simply take their breath away. Next to " Tula river " – 2016 -is also winter landscape, also beautiful, softened in color, harmonious, calm, and someone already can think that is not enough not of colors of 2009. One more river, «Aleus river " 2016, so fabulously bright, fascinating, again different, not like either the first or the second. Landscape - let's not forget – is the most accurate diagnosis of the author's mental state.

The style and author's language evolution is not a straight line, going certainly up or down. It likes a path — through a forest, a meadow, golden field, or high hill. It is important for a painter to remain himself. And to avoid temptations, there are much of them now. Using Internet you can locate somewhere in the Urals, seeing Maldives at your screen, find a beautiful view, fix it and start drawing. Why not? But it's the same as to make a portrait from a photograph. If you know exterior — it is only a reminder, a compositional hint. And if you do not know, what kind of air there, what kind of light, how a shadow from a cloud slides, then the photo is a crutch, and the composition — disabled. There is one more dangerous trap: compliment from a customer. It often means that a painter completely follows to a customer’s will, including his eye, hand, and will. Of course, maybe they fit each other, but it could be once in a million, when an eye, meaning the vision of the artist, fit with someone else. Another thing, if a picture has made someone happy and inspired — it's like poetry — "I feel, and he, the poet, said in such words, that it would not have come to my mind, and it turned out right."

Finally, there is a saloon — when "everyone likes it". There is a concept of “hit” among current authors. It appeared in market economy, providing the material base, or standard of living, lulled creative consciousness by the formula: one artwork to a saloon and another for me. But in fact, the saloon virus – is a formidable danger to a creative person. Well it was Picasso, who could in his fifty say: "I am not searching, I have found." But contrary to his words all his life he mastered new topics, new forms and genres. And young painter should go forward, look for himself, without losing the main thing - belief in life, in the world around, in art which saves first of all internal beauty.
One artwork is very different from the whole exhibition. It was conceived monumentally, it was defined by its genre as "existential drama". It is "C`est la vie", which is philosophical collection of sculptural, pictorial and graphic citations from the history of world art. The same twilight-monochrome color of this eerie pyramid evokes gloomy thoughts, and the pyramid itself is crowned with death with a scythe.

The origin of this painting could probably explain to us only the artist herself. I can only say that it looks alien surrounded by bright landscapes, from some point of view controversial, in using techniques, in the interpretation of color or shape, but full of vitality, sunny and bright. In contrast to this gloomy impression I want to mark a small, but wonderful tempera composition "Horse" (2015), just as a guide for the exhibition visitors. It was placed near drawing series "Sochi".

In this tender and light artwork you can find accuracy in life observation and like from the Silver Age — grace motive, and the informality of the author's tone. And, most importantly, fluency in using of tempera, opaque paint, very clean in color, a little flickering, as litmus test for the painter. It is the "Horse" that I remember, leaving the exhibition with gratitude to young talented Novosibirsk painter and wishes her success on a complex and happy, with all temptations, way to herself.