Natasha Kornilova

Alexandr Borovskiy, Corresponding member, the Member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Arts, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, the Head of Contemporary Art at the State Russian Museum.


You can say about some people that they were was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Natalia Kornilova was born with a pencil in her hand. Her home was full of people living the interests of graphics: studied graphics and collected graphics.

Natalia's grandfather, Petr Evgenyevich Kornilov, was a historian of graphics and collected the graphic collection of the Russian Museum, was a professor at the Mukhinskaya Academy, was known as a subtle and discerning collector. Her parents, Igor Petrovich and Anna Nikolaevna, were architects and artists. Igor Petrovich also worked as a graphic artist: my childhood memories were full of his landscapes and abstract works which terribly surprised me, the point is that it was in the late 1950s then. In the rooms at the Russian Museum, where N. spent her earliest childhood and in the apartment on Tipanova street, where she flew into independent life, all the walls were hung with a first-rate art. This is about the "pencil in her hand." One day I came across the expression in the official Newspeak: enforcement to peace. In the atmosphere of the Kornilovs’ house, of course, there was no "enforcement to graphic". But the will to create graphic penetrated everything. N.K. drew from her early ages - it was natural. Since childhood, she was amazing (in particular, I was probably the first her audience and a peer: our parents were friends) with her looseness and decorative talent (decorative regardless of color: the figures in the slate the nuances of texture and luminosity of the only black color in its half-and quarter-tones created the effect of coloration). This spontaneous (or rather, the consequence of the reigning of graphic culture in the family, but this, of course, was not publicized) looseness then was officially allowed and even welcomed at child- and teenager levels, but no further. Anyway, N.K. easily won national and international competitions, as I recall, her drawings were sent to the very Picasso for review! Institute of Ilya Repin (she graduated from the Graphic Department of the workshop of the remarkable engraver G. Epifanov) gave her a lot: N.K. brilliantly mastered the skills of all types of printing methods, canonical forms of form constructions, etc. But then this natural looseness, of course, was frozen by academic studies. After some time the graphic of N.K. (and she works almost in all the techniques, including rare one - monotype) "thaws": improvisation returns.


In her works (and they are usually of a vertical format) improvisation is a concept that characterizes not only the reception, the performance, but also the emotional content. The artist improvises on the themes of all sorts of mental states, their content and their ephemerality. She sets up visual tools for a kind of tuning fork: human figures (and she, in a literal sense, is a figurativist, her poetics is based primarily on the image of people) "outlooking" (a phrase by M. Bahtin) all sorts of emotional reactions and states: impulse, doubt , call, frustration, etc. Kornilova often gives concrete theatrical or concrete literary anchors. But the moment of "source studies" is often not so important: in the work of N.K. the element of theatricality, as well as specifically theatrical entertainment, is the quality of the picture of the world, no more and no less. Emotion "shows", plays; drama (specifically tied to the work as a source, or "life" one, inherent in the flow of life as such) is given primarily to the "gestural force" (Yu.Tynyanov). The world of Kornilova is generally theatrical: not only emotional, but also visual conditions are "played". The composition sets the basic rhythms and masses, and self-development in view of improvisation: the dashed masses (it does not matter - slate or watercolor touchings, or etching pickling) live by themselves in a temporary mode. Most often this is a sign of mirage, fantasy, general characteristic of Kornilova-easel. But in some of the best Kornilova’s works of the illustrative plan this moment of mismatch of temporary modes is reflected by the artist as a means of interpreting literature. Thus, in the works on the theme of "The Divine Comedy" by Dante there is some common composition spread in time and space - epic slow one (remember Mandelstam - "leading the debate in a circle"). And there are private composition and temporal modes, "scenes": they slow down or speed up the overall compositional reversal, at least, are in meaningful ways justified with it. Etchings of Pushkin's "Little Tragedies" are more specific, in the sense of repetition and staged source. And, I think, more pathetic. But it seems that this line, functional theatricality as if makes the artist tired: etchings include a lot of "white spots" - doors, spatial pathways, arches, that are the ways to escape from the illustrative plan into something different. Recently, N.K., as it seems to me, thinks more about this different, metaphysical? plan. Less and less not only concrete fine lines, but generally figurative, except the volume of face or mask silhouette discovers in the net of lines.


These self-contained lines, traced with a brush (or scratched, or etched), or improvisational streaks, begin to play at N.K. an increasingly important role. What is this, is it an urge to abstraction or geometric project attraction? It seems to be not, this is contradicted by their own man-made, even handmade nature. Perhaps this is an allusion to Russian Luchism? Is also unlikely: there is no optically-touch plan which occupied M. Larionov so much. Something else. Lines are brittle, dehydrated, drooping. And there are strong lines, as if designed to overcome resistance - the threads that puppeteers control puppets. Lines, embracing color granules, like restricting the minerals. Finally, there are juicy lines - the capillaries supplying the moisture ... What is behind all this metaphorics? I think this is the metaphor of theatrical and direct, complicated relationships between them in particular concern N. Kornilova in recent years.




Creative paradoxes of Natalia Kornilova

Yuriy Bobrov, Member of Russian Academy of Arts, Doctor of Arts, Professor


Natalia Kornilova is now a rather rare type of "Saint Petersburg artist" which paradoxically combines a "good education" obtained in an old Saint Petersburg family, and open-minded bohemian views, living in the corridors of the Academy of Fine Arts. Another paradox is that Natalia Kornilova became one of the acknowledged masters of abstract art having come to it through the years of study in the most academic art school of modern Europe – in Saint Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts (Repin Institute).

Today, looking at her inspired abstract compositions, it's hard to imagine that she brilliantly performed her undergraduate work at the academy and earned the highest score for it. Natalia Kornilova is a great improviser; she creates her compositions using a blank sheet of paper, etching board or canvas on a stretcher. She gives visual form to her feelings, just as composer writes a score, knowing how his music will sound. It is always amazing to watch Natalia sitting with a sheet of paper in front of the flowers in the garden, composing new forms of harmony apparently not connected with the surrounding objects. She does not prepare sketches, does not suffer over a sheet of paper with a pencil and eraser in her hand. This is the mystery of her works.


Sometimes her compositions include figures of some theatrical characters, which gives them some features of a plot and decoration. But the world of her images is always going beyond objectivity. Natalia is free to use the art form. She easily draws human figures. Her life experience includes serious school of realistic images, where anatomical drawing and study of nature were an important part of education. She manages to catch the plastic movement of human body as easily as expressive color combinations to find the spots and lines. In all her works you can see all the mastery of techniques and tools of an artist.


Sometimes she paints with a sharpened graphite pencil, sometimes with etching needle or quill pen, often with bristle brush and oil paints, and very often with deliquescent watercolor on paper. And always her paintings and graphics create the atmosphere of some kind of spiritual and sensual meditation, and it is difficult to turn away from her works. For decades, Natalia Kornilova changes very little - she remains the same delicate, charming woman with an unbeatable sense of inner freedom. These permanent features of her nature make ​​her art constant too— it improves her peculiar lyrical and abstract style in which the internal development is harmonious and discreet.


Natalia Kornilova is the demanded artist, actively taking part with her works in the exhibitions of different levels. Personal exposures of Kornilova took place in different cities of Russia, as well as in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France and Belgium. Her works are located in the State Russian Museum, the Russian National Library, the Scientific Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, as well as in many private collections.



The gusts of her soul are marvelous

Tatiana Yuryeva, Doctor of Fine Arts, professor of Saint Petersburg State University Director of the Dyagilev Museum of Contemporary Art.


Natalia Kornilova is an artist of a rare and diverse talent. With all her sophistication and unpredictable results of her creative, she does not hover, but does plough. The work of an artist looks attractive, but it is infinitely painful and requires not only emotional stress...

Impregnated with the atmosphere of art since her childhood, she drew everything that surrounded her. Being a graphic artist by education, which owns masterly etching, lithography, linocut and watercolor, she has perfectly absorbed academic principles, only to abandon them later. In the depths of her mind and her soul Natasha wanted to find new borders. Russian Amazons, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, Nadezhda Udaltsova and Alexandra Exter inspired her throughout her life. From them Natalia studied the attainment of inner freedom that can then be manifested in each movement of a brush or a pencil.


This "Ego" gained once again required the creation of her own myth, dream and its allegory. Real and irrational, visible and invisible things are the components. It is no point to ask her what her works are about. Her graphic works are composed of fine and harmonious color scheme, contributing to the spirit to be expressed in visible plastic forms. The power of art by Natalia Kornilova is in the secret of beauty with magnetic properties, in the belief in the unseen, and at the same time in the desire of the invisible to become visible. Language of plastic, color and light found genuine expression in her works of the last decade. Infiltrating the image created by her, your imagination will remain at the mercy of the world created by her. You get into a trap. Maybe you should not go out of it, you start thinking. And I think you will be right. It is a monotonous work to analyze the reality. Stay in another reality. And then being a prisoner of the soft color of lines and planes on the stage of her theater you start communicating with refined ladies, indulging in palmistry, admiring the still life, spinning in a whirlwind of dance and certainly will see the cities, which do not exist, their streets and squares, palaces and skyscrapers. Pluralistic constants of life, presented in a variety of abstractions of visible and imaginary world, which are dominating in her works and raise your reaction, are not only emotional but also cognitive and spiritual ones. Handmade art by Natalia Kornilova is doomed to a long life, for it is genuine