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Reviews of artworks
Novikova Lyudmila
art historian, Head of Exhibition Hall of V.V. Bianki Biysk Local History Museum

For Biysk residents neither name, nor artworks of young Novosibirsk painter is known. But even from the first view any viewer very far from the art can feel exceptional charisma in Natalia Shalagina’s pictures. You can feel it in lyrical softness and spiritual fullness of her artworks, especially landscapes. According to the exhibition artworks I think that landscape is emotionally close to the painter, the nature of Siberia is deeply studied by her, thought out and felt in all weather and time. Convincingly show changing nature, color variations of light and air allows the artist’s true understanding of the general tone. Therefore, the landscape paintings are so truthful and sincere.

Fun frosty snowy light goes from the paintings "Waxwing", "My city", " Aleus river ". The quiet rustle of the leaves is full of the picture "Alone autumn". Feast of winter light, fragility of beauty of the bushes and trees covered with snow at the shore of not frozen river ("Tula river") are drawn with truly skills. I can't keep my eyes from these paintings. Their poetic spirituality, light sincerity can feel any viewer not indifferent to the beauty of nature and painting. In these and other paintings, the artist shows an outstanding pictorial and plastic talent.
The picture "Winter evening" is impressing greatly. Bright contrasts of warm yellow-orange rays of the setting sun and thick blue - violet shadows on the snow, color tension and broad generalized painting reveal picturesque temperament and coloristic talent of the painter. These characters are also clearly shown in a series of paintings with marine motifs, in their dynamic color and linear rhythms, in the exquisite beauty of the cold ("After fishing season", "Novorossiysk Bay", "Cruiser "Kutuzov", etc.) or warm tones ("Dry cargo ship").

No doubt the skill of young painter in a picture field forming. There are practically no sketches at the exhibition. Only finished paintings, even in small-format. Paintings by Natalia Shalagina are characterized by basic character of any art especially fine art, which we define as "harmony" or "artistry". If the concept of "artistry" means placing of life material in the picture, it must be recognized that artworks of N. Shalagina are harmonious and balanced in the view of color-tone range, and the rhythms of color and plastic masses, and the shape and scale of the color spots. N. Shalagina is able to spiritualize her landscapes space. Looking at them, you remember that harmony in Russian art tradition has a spiritual meaning.

As a whole the painter has a poetically-contemplative attitude to nature, therefore all her landscapes “nature”, marine, architectural, always have a bright emotional tint. You can not say the same about portraits. Although the assessment of the artistic qualities of portraits on the basis of two or three works may be biased. The painter confidently builds forms, fits figures into space, shows external similarity, but the portraits have lack inspiration, the visible pleasure with which landscapes are created.

In the overall picture of the world, created by the imagination and talent of N. Shalagina, the works “C`est la vie” and “Bacchantes” stand apart. The painter leaves her method of drawing from life away, and turned to the assembly principle of composition. The large-size picture “C`est la vie” attracts attention with its size, content, and unusual image solution. Many figures, closely vertically grouped in a closed space of the foreground, have complex and multi-valued symbolic sense, clear and intelligible for someone and a solid rebus for others unfamiliar with the history of art. One can understand the desire of the young painter to express her ideas about the world. Conceptual art became extremely popular with young painters since the 70s of the last century. Surely, the painter is fascinated by finding a direct interaction between her idea and its external expression. But coldness and reasonableness in image reflection of the world is not peculiar to Natalia Shalagina's perception of the world. Maybe that's why the picture has lack of art persuasiveness. In general, we can welcome the desire to expand the storyline and genre, the range of fine art means.

The storyline and theme repertoire of Natalia Shalagina has not a deep variety, but she uses much graphic and expressive techniques: painting is smooth and textured, detailed and generalized; the color scheme is nuanced and contrasting, based on closed colors, and on contrasts; drawing, may be soft and smooth, and sharp, clear, constructive. By flexibly and intelligently using of different means, taking into account a motive, the painter achieves art persuasiveness of images.

About painters as Natalia Shalagina, someone can say that they were born "with a brush in a hand." The exhibition’s author has a lively, subtle, varied art language, she feels and conveys the harmony and great power of nature. As a true artist, Natalia Shalagina does not copy or describe nature, but she shows it by means of painting, creating her own, unique images, sometimes bright and sonorous, sometimes elegiac and sad, and sometimes with romantic-tense.