Natan: "Baku surprises and inspires me"
The 'Faces of Art' exhibition by artist Natalya Shevchenko (Natan) has opened in the Moscow House of Nationalities yesterday, with the support of the Russia-Azerbaijan Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. Her paintings sometimes invoke an internal imbalance in a person, but this is the true meaning of real art is not just making you think about the paintings, but about your own life.
Natan’s paintings are held in 36 public and private collections in Russia and abroad, and in April her art was presented in Baku, where the artist traveled with her 'Faces of Art' exhibition. A deep understanding of sense of rhythm and music in portraits of Yuri Grigorovich, Sergei Rachmaninov, Dmitry Hvorostovsky, Maya Plisetskaya, Fedor Chaliapin, Sergei Diaghilev, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Muslim Magomayev is impressing. At the opening of her exhibition, Natan answered Vestnik Kavkaza's questions.
- Your exhibition was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. What's your connection to Azerbaijan? How does it inspire you?
-This year I held an exhibition in sunny Baku. It was organised by the Russian embassy, it was opened by the ambassador.I'll tell you straight away that it was my first time in this city. It greatly surprised and inspired me. Artists are people who get inspired just by walking the streets.
- What works can be seen at the 'Faces of Art' exhibition?
- This exhibition features many paintings, and all of them are devoted to the authors and their works, which influenced me, discovered something new in my mind. For example, I spent my childhood listening to Magomayev's songs. I grew up listening to this voice, and I really love this artist.
This year Azerbaijan celebrates the 650th anniversary of great Azerbaijani poet Nasimi. I only found out about him this year, and he really inspired me.
- Did you finish Magomaev's portrait before your trip to Baku?
- Yes. When my close friend found out that I was going to Azerbaijan, she advised me to make a portrait of Magomayev: "It is a crime to come to Baku without Magomayev." And I had never thought about Magomayev's birthplace before. It always seemed to me that this is our artist. I painted his portrait, and it stayed in Baku. And this exhibition features another portrait. It is very easy for me to paint Magomayev, his portraits are very different from others.
Usually, everyone asks about the lion [If you look closely, then you can see the shape of the lion's head in Magomayev's hair - VK]. Usually, when I finish painting in a workshop, before I go home, I take a picture of it. When I looked at the picture at home, I saw that because of the light one can see a lion on Magomayev’s ear. When I returned to the workshop, I just circled it.
- It's not just a lion that can be seen in the picture. It conveys some kind of power, intensity of sound, a semblance of a halo can be seen...
- This is a medal with the image of Magomayev singing the 'Heroes of Sport' song, in which he inspire people to heroism.
- Do you have any other works in the project devoted to Azerbaijan?
- Kara Karaev, Mstislav Rostropovich, Nasimi ...
- How long do you work on the paintings?
- The work of art depends on artist’s insight. It takes time to get an insight. You read a lot, replenish, being filled to overflowing, and only when it hurts, when you get sick, then enlightenment comes. When I painted a portrait of Kara Karaev, I watched all his concerts, listened all his songs for a very long time. It was difficult for me to plunge into it, but I really wanted to paint his portrait. But it took only two days to paint a portrait of Magomaev.
- If you visit Baku again, will you paint portraits? As an artist, are you interested in this city?
- Recently I was in Bishkek, and now I have a collection of landscapes: mountains, mountain rivers, steppes. But when I'm in Baku I want to draw the sea. The Black Sea is not as inspiring as the Caspian Sea. The Caspian sinks deeper into heart.
-Natan, why do you have such a pseudonym?
-Because my name is Natalya. In childhood people called me Natanchik, then it gradually turned into Nathan. Both the museum community and the family call me Natan. Everyone except my husband.