Natalia Kalugina: Paint … and Ye Shall Reach

Natalia Kalugina is, without exaggeration, a unique artist. She is the first and now the only painter in the country to have studied painting via e-learning, rather than at an art school or the Academy of Arts. Taught by teachers of an online distance learning art school, Natalia also regards Vladimir Pavlotsky, Kamil Veliakhmedov, Chary Annageldyev and Nikolay Ershov as her mentors. She used to spend much time in their studios, while developing and practicing her painting skills.

It took Natalia Pavlovna most of her life to embark on the career as an artist, although she had dreamed of it since childhood. The circumstances were such that at the insistence of her parents she became a scientist, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy. She could only hope that her son, who had innate abilities, would become a professional artist. But the young man chose architecture... And yet, her son's choice was life-changing for her: Natalia Pavlovna decided to make up for the lost time and become a professional artist. She bought canvases, paints and took up painting...

The first floor of the Exhibition Center features her first works: portraits and landscape paintings, disproportionally elongated and slightly simplified, painted in rich and vivid tones, in a manner similar to Amedeo Modigliani. When she showed her first paintings to the acknowledged masters, their verdict was disappointing: Although the artist has undoubted talent, the works are unprofessional! It did not seem realistic to enroll at the art school or the Academy of Arts at her age; however Natalia Pavlovna came up with an optimal solution e-learning.

Today, her first works are a big draw for visitors (among whom are her fellow painters), who spend a long time taking a close look at the paintings A Portrait of David, Altyn, and An Anthill. Among experts at the exhibition is Annadurdy Muradaliev from an art school in Mary.

- Who took the liberty to call it unprofessional? - he says, looking at the painting Three Poplars. The well-matched colors brighten up the narrative, making the viewer feel a breath of wind and the depth of the night sky. The deliberate simplicity of the painting conveys a philosophical message.

Natalia Kalugina can create a cheerful mood literally from everything. The artist called one of the exhibition sections utilism. This is her pioneer technique.

- Apart from my passion for painting, I am also a scientist. Therefore, every time working on a painting, I collected excess paint in a bag. A year later, it weighed two and a half kilograms. Having decided to make good use of the excess paint to avoid soil and water contamination, I placed two easels and started working on two paintings simultaneously: while painting one of them consciously and the other intuitively, applying the paint over the canvas. Pictures on the second easel were avant-garde paintings, which captured the gamut of emotions and moods: from joy to sadness.

On display is a vast collection of photographs and sketches. As a photographic artist, a member of Khemra Club, Natalia Pavlovna exhibits her works quite often. The color and black-and-white photographs depict many easily recognizable people and compositions.

Between the first and second floors of the Exhibition Center, visitors are welcomed with the painting Lilacs, showing a huge bouquet of lilacs Natalia Pavlovna has painted it this year in honor of International Women's Day.

Today, Natalia Kalugina is a realist and landscape painter, who is in love with exceptionally beautiful and spectacularly diverse natural landscapes and wonders of her country. Notably, the painter sees and depicts them in yellow and violet. This makes landscape paintings by Kalugina instantly recognizable. Among them are Autumn in Sumbar, Shibli Baba, Mountain Scenery, Manysh, and others. Even the painting In Moonlit Mountains has shades of violet and yellow from Kalugina's palette.

She often depicts lonely bushes and trees, and this gives her paintings deep meaning. For instance, on seeing four mulberry trees, somebody could say: What unattractive trees. Having recalled the trolls from Scandinavian legends that are believed to live in the mountains and to turn into stones in the sunlight, Natalia Pavlovna painted the mulberries and named her painting A Walk of Trolls. Visitors are totally amazed by the artist's impressive perception and grasp, and the mulberry trees, indeed, seem to be cute fairy-tale characters.

Next in line is an alley of young trees with slim bendy trunks and short branches. Those visitors, who are unaware, may find the name of the painting strange - Chopin: Opus 18. This brings up the question: 'What does this music have to do with it?!' Natalia Pavlovna explains: If you watch the painting and listen to the piece by Chopin, this will create the illusion of the trees dancing!

A small-scale painting, Horse Riders, features the Caspian Sea's shore, lapping waves, sand, and hoof prints of three horses galloping their riders into the distance. It is most likely that the painting was produced on vacation in Avaza. A collection of figurines made of clay, the artist found in the resort area, was also inspired by the vacation. These small charming heads are Clay Spirits... Natalia Pavlovna offers a romantic explanation: they had long been waiting in the clay for me to shape and bring them into our world. Sculptures of hostile and combative red-feathered roosters, a goat and a dog, three red monkeys, and a foal were skillfully crafted together with Clay Spirits. In childhood, the artist was very good at shaping figures out of modeling clay. And she put her creative talent to good use as soon as she took soft clay in her hands.

The exhibition also presented Natalia Kalugina as a jewelry designer. She named her collection of women's costume jewelry The Silk Road. It is not just a tribute to the country's history: each piece boasts specially treated silkworm cocoons. The Carnival of Venice is one of the most beautiful sets of jewelry shown at the exhibition.

Natalia Kalugina's seventh solo exhibition has traditionally been a big hit with experts and lovers of painting alike. Her work wins admiration, sparks disputes, raises questions, captures the mood or is out of tune with it... It is as energetic and dynamic as the time we live in. What really matters is it is sincere and sends out the love-filled energy.

Source: Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper