Bucks County Town and Country Living
When examining Natasha’s work, it soon becomes evident that there are other similarities besides big beautiful women. A brick background, for example, can be seen in most of her paintings. “I tried to develop a trademark, so that people can recognize my style, it’s bricks, fabric drapes and colors. Every artist tries to develop something so that people can tell his name right away, when they jut look at the painting. And that’s going to be my trademark. I can say that bricks in my paintings, like concrete, is strong and emphasizes this aspect of the women I paint.”
Each one of Natasha’s paintings has a story behind it. In her painting “Dreaming with Aneta,” two women sit at a table holding wineglasses. There eyes show that they are drifting off away from their surroundings. Underneath them are the trademark bricks. Natasha explains, “Aneta is my friend. One day we reserved a day for ourselves and came to New York. Our husbands where on a business trip, and the children were taken care off. We decided to spend time together and make it a little vacation. We had a beautiful dinner, over whine, we talked a lot about our past, present and our future. We talked about our families, children, about our pleasure in life, what we are dreaming for ourselves – normal woman conversation. I captured this moment when we were dreaming about our future and the future of our children and families.”
Natasha and her friend are both in the painting, although they are bigger than they are in life. The original painting was sold to a business man in Florida. Shortly after hanging it, he got in touch with Natasha to tell her that every time he threw a party, people would flock to this painting. “You know your painting is the most popular painting in my whole collection, because it speaks to people.” Natasha believes that the reason for the painting’s popularity is that the people, particularly women, can identify what the subjects. “Everyone,” Natasha says, “can find something that they can relate to themselves. When they saw the painting they said, ‘Oh, she looks like my friend.’ If you see that painting you can come up with your own story. People look at it, and because of the visual image, they start to create their own idea – they’re own explanation of the painting, and that’s fine.”
Natasha did a series of paintings of women playing pool. These works are calling simply “Pool 1,” “Pool 2,” “Pool 3,” and “Pool 4.” Natasha got this idea to do this series from watching an international women’s pool championship on television. “It looks so beautiful. The ladies were wearing evening gowns. They look so glamorous. I was thinking that I didn’t ever see a sport where the women looked so elegant and so Art Deco.”
“A Love Song” has a woman playing a guitar and singing along with another woman who is playing a harmonica. Natasha explains, “In my Russian community we have a family that volunteers to create a concert in their home. It’s a private concert. They invite for us Russian singers… Russian musicians, and we have the opportunity to keep in touch with our culture. This painting came to me while I was at this concert to listen to Russian romance. It is a specific category of musi. It’s like soul but in a Russian way. Mostly it’s with a guitar and a lady or a man sings very heartfelt or sad soul songs.”
Natasha uses her own face in several of her paintings. She also invents faces, something that she is able to do because of her background as a fashion designer. “I am always sketching women from her imagination. I never used models before; everything came from my head.”
Her friends are often used in paintings. This is the case with “Midnight Reading.” Natasha says that this is a very important time for busy women. As she explains the painting she generalizes about women, but then personalizes it for herself. She says, “It is a midnight when a woman is done with all her chores. The children are sleeping; her husband is watching TV or doing something by himself. For a moment in her life she can belong to herself. She did her duty to everybody and everything. And let me be myself for at least and hour I take my favorite book and my favorite wine. I don’t care how I look. I feel free with clothes or without close. And that’s the moment when a woman belongs to herself.”
Only one of Natasha’s paintings has a man in it. In “Jealousy” the man and the two rival women show us only their backs. “the idea for this painting is that on the dance floor two women, one invited to the dance and the other just staying and asking ‘Why did he choose her and not me?’”
Natasha’s paintings invite the viewer in on what would ordinarily be private moments, but the viewer doesn’t feel like an intruder. She is more likely to identify with the women pictured. She is also likely to be visually challenged. The bright fabrics, the bricks, the beautiful big women will keep her eyes moving. There is a kinetic kind of excitement in these paintings. Some bring to mind serious issues and other more fun. Most are planned, but one came from walking serendipitously past Natasha’s New Hope gallery.
“Funny Sunny Day” is a picture of a woman in a blue dress with a yellow umbrella with a very large dog. It is bright and delightful. Natasha says, “One day it was a very sunny and hot day. I was at the gallery, and I saw a woman walking her dog, and they stopped in the shade because it was too hot. She gave the dog a bottle of water. I could not keep myself from jumping out and getting a photo. I got her permission and photographed her. They were a lovely couple, because they were so exotic, and they were so colorful. The dog is huge. He is sitting in the painting, but in real life I have never seen such a big dog.”
Natasha’s work has many sources of inspiration, but for the two paintings she calls “Fashion Icons” she directly credits Gustav Klimt. They are somewhat different than her main body of work. The trademark bricks are missing. Explaining the work, Natasha says, “No, I didn’t use bricks here, because it is from a different idea of decorative painting. It reminds me of working on fabric print. I want to show color, ornaments, checkerboard, stripes… I want to bring attention to the jewelry, and to the whole idea of the fashion of it. Also, I have gold around the head, like icons do. I want to make a connection between the fashion spirit and the Holy Spirit. I believe that on a certain level fashion can be spiritual. In these two picture the eye that watches them will continually move. There is something going on everywhere you look. It’s like a river or song; and I believe it is a kind of spiritual painting.”
The gallery in New Hope offers both original art and giclee prints that faithful reproductions that are sometimes indistinguishable from the originals. Giclee prints can be made in various sizes at different prices. The process of making giclee prints involve the using of archival inks on archival quality paper. As a result of this reproduction technology people can afford reproductions that look almost identical to the original. Giclee prints are usually made in limited additions.
Yury not only manages Natasha’s art, he is her most loyal fan. Natasha says, looking right at Yury, “He pushes me.” They both laugh. “His pushing is more like gentle nudges. He likes to emphasize that she is a member of the International Association of Women Artist and participates in many prestigious shows. He also points out that in addition to showing in the New Hope galleries, Natasha has worked all over the country and showed on Broadway and in Florida.
The Natasha Pantelyat Gallery is located on 16 W. Bridge street in New Hope. It is open during the summer Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 AM to 7 PM and by individual appointment.