Still life genre obtained its independence in the early XVII century. Logically its origins came to be the Netherlands – the country where people know how to relish the “little” joys of life. We inherited from the “fijnschilders” a great world of happy and harmonious coexistence of people, objects and flowers. We lost the path to it in a fuss of workdays, in comfortable indifference of one-time mass consumption, in scandalous search for new, basically different from time-tested aesthetics and forms of fine arts. Lviv artist Nataliya Pukhinda offers to us a unique chance to get onto the territory of eternal values.
Nataly has got two passions: antiques and flowers, the symbols of momentary and eternal beauty. She very assiduously picks object to object, detail to detail, nuance to nuance, building from the “debris” of the past the aesthetically and energetically “tasty” composition. All the participants of her still life paintings: all these chandeliers, books, vases, clocks, mirrors, musical instruments, paintings and hats…in the days of yore were the fragments of sceneries in the play of people’s life whose real biographies for ever remained off screen. So the artist’s romantic imagination is free to compose of these random, intertwined “jigsaw puzzles” from different times and countries her own, absolutely convincing stories. They come so attractive, that there are times when the artist herself is tempted to “try on”, at least virtually, in a mirror, the destiny of an unknown owner of a coquettish bonnet.
Most of her flower characters Nataly finds in her own garden that thanks to her endeavors flourishes from early spring to late autumn. “The eyes of Earth” called the flowers the Ukrainian artist-dreamer Kateryna Bilokur, “the nature’s smile” as called by Belgian poet and play writer Maeterlinck … For our civilization a flower became a logotype of perfection, women’s beauty and beauty of the soul, innocent youth and purity, wisdom and God’s blessing… Not a single world culture has gone without the “flower” tradition: in the world of ancient Romans, flowers were born from the blood the gods spilled, and in Buddah’s world, the gods were born from the flowers. Nataly Pukhinda doesn’t see the need to compete with the colleagues from the past in the art of depicting the gentle flower flesh, she just uses her talent to surround herself with as much beauty in its concentrated art equivalent as possible.
The artist believes that still life is the most grateful form of declaration of one’s love to the sensuous world’s material beauty. Though the term “still life” when considered literally is absolutely incongruous. In Nataliya Pukhinda’s paining it goes, in fact about “quite life” (Stilleben) of plants, objects and people (in or off the screen) at the moment bordering today and eternity. Still life – landscape – portrait for the artist isn’t the means to classify the world onto the genre shelves, but the means to communicate her view of it as a single matter that exists in line with common harmony laws. That’s why Natalya’s objects are so portraitly expressive, the flowers look like elegant porcelain, the landscape resembles a nosegay in perspective and people are acquiring flowers’ decorative effect. As all of these are just details of one grand picture of being. All Universe, all its evening contemplations and wind, destiny challenges, escape and anxiety and shimmering of the running clouds lies, as the romanticist Rilke writes, in roses’ bloom.
These canvasses would fit into the exquisite saloons of the times of the Victorian England, a stronghold of stable welfare cherishing and chamber family values. Nowadays when the era of Things with a capital T is over and reality has yielded to virtuality, Nataly wants to be as accurate in registering all the smallest details of what she values and loves, as she could. Without pomposity, without exaltation, without special effects, confining herself with what is on the table and in the window, Nataly Pukhinda tells how interesting how versatile, attractive and at the same time fragile the world is, the one where we live and which disappears about our ears as water drains through the sand. For her story she consciously opts for the dying language of classical painting so as to emphasize the steadiness of beauty criteria in the world of breakneck changes. No stylizations, no ambitions to try to transform the perfection. Scrupulously, photographically drawing the nature in all the details, the artist creates and ideal model of the world, bereft of brutal negligence of instant mannering. This is her author present to us, so we could understand, feel, comprehend and appreciate the perfection of forms and richness of textures born in the world of pre-industrial technologies, in the times when the handmade quality was idolized and tears were shed when looking at the drops of dew on the chaste petals.
How good people could live, Nataly is trying to explain to us, if only they understood, if only they wanted…
historian of art, Lviv, 2008.