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Reviews of artworks
Petrenko Sergey
art historian, teacher of Novosibirsk State Art School, post-graduate student of Novosibirsk State University of Architecture, Design and Arts

Natalia Shalagina is a painter, who does not fit into the circle of those masters of the XX century, who, according to Spanish philosopher J. Ortega y Gasset, completely turned away from external world and turned his view inside, towards the subjective landscape. Indeed, the shock that the viewer felt after aesthetic revolution of modernism and its successor postmodernism was so great that any displaying in the art of classical categories and return to the traditional ideas of harmony force to look at the art program of its author. From this point of view, Natalia takes a passeist line in the fine arts, however, according to the painter herself, could affect a purely female attraction to beauty with its protective tradition of the past.
Each painter even during the period of his study chooses the number of artists and art schools that influence on his formation as a painter. For Natalia – there were Russian painters at the turn of XIX-XX centuries: K. Gorbatova, V. Golovina, K. Yuona, I. Levitan. That is, the generation of artists for whom social problems have ceased to exist, replaced by the so-called "pure art". Aesthetics of N. Shalagina to some extent can be called as hedonistic, because in her paintings always the sun shines, and the dazzling blue color of the sky can be found in the village landscape, and in the industrial view of modern Novosibirsk. The modern city in the pictures of N. Shalagina or the outskirts of it – it's not a city of Dostoevsky, "the city of the devil", the cursed city. In the picture "Novosibirsk" (2015) the main character is small chapel, as the main attribute and a kind of a keeper of cultural codes. Even here the painter does not try to create a conflict between the iconic architecture and ultra-modern glass skyscrapers. Silver haze of the city air and cold blue shadows gently cover and fuse into a single light-air mass of urban space, which froze endless strings of cars.

The painter's view at the modern metropolis is always detached one. This is a city of quiet residential districts, where through the backstage of park areas peeps high buildings, formed by an active silhouette of non-functional boxes. In this view, as well as in the paintings of K. Pissarro, you cannot find an evidence of civilization. ""My city" (2013), "Waxwing" (2014) - urban background is only a small part of the big world of nature. Only in the form of such small theatrical scenery, this urban world has the right to exist, without destroying the harmony established in the picture.

The picture "Spring" (2015) is naive and romantic. The theme of spring and love is revealed not only by the open sound of bright green grass, by blue sky and by white flowers of blossoming almonds, the allegory of spring are the bicycles left under the tree. The author of the picture, still, makes the presence of a human unobtrusive, only hinting of his presence, but the associative series of color and plastic metaphors in the form of two merging trunks of a flowering tree and the bicycles placed at it invariably draw the image of the lovers next to it. The formal scheme, in which the compositional center falls on the "Golden section" of the canvas, and it forms the motif of a repetitive figure of the circle, which from the Renaissance considered as the simplest and the most perfect, translating the dream of absolute harmony, appears in the picture of a plastic metaphor of spring and love. The view of the painter becomes pantheistic.

At the same time, the painter does not make stumbling block questions of style or formal searches, which turned into sports competition in the XX century. According to the author, trusting to intuition and not willing to going around one theme, may appear such contrasting pictures as "Star medal of grand grandfather" (2015) - with its story straightness, by formal and picturesque qualities converging with the official Soviet art; or " C`est la vie " (2015) - gloomy philosophical mystery in black, blue and white. The method of citing used by the author, characters for postmodern, collects classical heritage in a new plastic motif, in which sculptural groups acquire new content and meaning. The picture appears as a spiritual testament left by the culture of previous generations, and the dialogue with the classics rises in the author's interpretation to philosophical generalizations. Each character is a personification of a certain human quality, and the avalanche of bodies turns into a plastic ornament filled with ontological meaning. As in Dante Comedy, the painter unfolds bodily hieroglyphs of suffering and loneliness, friendship, grace and justice, unlimited power and poverty, elevating above this endless cycle of human life the colonnade of the ancient temple, turned into a giant scenery, on the steps of which the Comedy of human life is played - a scenery that the painter humbly calls "Such is life".