“India’s heart is reaching for the infinite Russia. The great Indian magnet is attracting Russian hearts. How joyful it is to see vitality in Indo-Russian ties. There exists beauty in the Indian-Russian magnet.”
These words of Nicholas Roerich aptly encapsulate the spirit of the exhibition of the paintings of Natalya Zaitseva-Borisova which were put up at the Roerich Memorial Estate in Naggar. Most of 60 canvases are themed around India with its temples and sacred sites. Spiritual reverberation flow from the paintings based on artist’s travel experiences in India’s northern and southern states as well as from canvases that conjure up churches and monasteries in historic Russian cities: Vladimir, Suzdal, Yuryev-Polsky, Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Pskov, Novgorod. Images of Hindu deities, Buddha and Maitreya, the Christian Mother of God, saints and angels are set among fanciful flowers and trees, birds and animals, vast Russian landscapes and the majestic Himalayas. These images intertwine with intricate lacework of floral and geometric patterns, splashing a riot of colours and firing up the world around them, soaring into the sky and vanishing into the unfathomable Cosmos.
For Natalya, every trip to Naggar – this is her fifth visit to this spiritually charged place – kindles her creativity afresh, and spawns a new set of pastels. “In 2005, I had a chance to travel around the Golden Ring of Russia,” says the 38-year-old Natalya who has exhibited in Russia, India, Nepal, Poland and Sweden. “I would say it was kind of a pilgrimage, which followed Nicholas Roerich’s early painting trips that inspired his canvases celebrating famous churches and other masterpieces of ancient Russian architecture. So my works are reflecting my perception of the places that possess such enormous spiritual and cultural gravitas.”
Although Natalya disclaims any imitation of Roerich, she revered the Russian painter as “the teacher who helped me cultivate my artistic vision”. She says she learnt from Roerich the “decorative” perception of nature and architecture and the ability “to look at things through my heart".
Natalya has also been teaching in Moscow, helping adults to develop their artistic talent. Her rich experience also comes in handy when she holds classes for children who learn to appreciate the beautiful at the Helena Roerich Art College created by the IRMT in 2003. It was inspiring to see young artists assembled on the lawns during the recent Indian-Russian festival and giving full play to their imagination.
“I think all of them did very well,” says Natalya. “Perhaps, the most important thing for a tutor is to help bring out students’ innate creative intuition, give them the right impetus and do your best to discern individual personalities.” India, she says, is blessed with an absolutely unique tradition and environment that liberate people’s hidden capabilities and powers.
The paintings, exhibited at the festival, clairvoyantly capture this fusion between spiritual values of India and Russia.
With permission from Russia Beyond the Headlines