Natalia Turnova: the unbreakable egg
The Moscow artist who has been active as a painter and sculptor since 1980s is unveiling her biggest sculptures to date at the Garage museum.
“Your work is different. It does not look like most of the stuff you see in exhibitions nowadays. You are more a non-conformist than a traditional artist.” Such words, spoken several decades ago by Boris Orlov (b. 1941), an artist on the front line of Soviet unofficial art, left deep impressions on the young Natalia Turnova (b. 1957). She had just graduated from the Stroganov State University of Arts and Industry in Moscow and they gave her a context for her future development as an artist. Since then, dedicated to her trade, Turnova has been making art in her own personal signature style with steadfast discipline over the years. Recognition has come, she was described in the press-release for her solo exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery in 2018 as “one of the brightest, most serious and dramatic artists of our time”.
Natalia Turnova has participated in over 200 international and Russian group exhibitions, including shows at the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the International Biennale of Sculpture in Fellbach, Germany and the Biennale of Graphic Art in Kaliningrad. Photo by Evgeny Alexeev. State Tretyakov Gallery
Natalia Turnova. Nursing home, 2007. Oil on canvas, 170x130 cm. Courtesy of the artist
Natalia Turnova. Nursing home, 2007. Oil on canvas, 170x120 cm. Courtesy of the artist
Natalia Turnova. New Generation (Blue), 2007. Oil on canvas, 190x160 cm. Courtesy of the artist
Natalia Turnova. Red Face, 2008. Oil on canvas, 190x140 cm. Courtesy of the atrist
Natalia Turnova. New Generation (Red), 2008. Oil on canvas, 190x140 cm. Courtesy of the atrist
One of the most surprising distinctive characteristics of Turnova’s new sculptural installation at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is the absence of bright colours and complex structures made of sinuous forms which mark most of her previous work. Unquestionably, at first glance, this work is an atypical Turnova. But, at first glance only, because ‘The Egg and the Rock’ is in many ways the logical evolution of her artistic path. It comes out of maturity, out of deep introspection, it examines the way people, especially couples, communicate and engage with each other. This is probably the bravest of all her works so far precisely because, here, she does not resort to the boldness of her famous bright colours and to the gaiety of her smooth and polished forms. “I have lost many of the fears that artists feel when they are young. I have learned how to be brave and not worry if I am not understood,” she confesses candidly when thinking about the processes that brought her to make the installation. Still, again here, as in her youth, Turnova proves to be a revolutionary that changes the world. Softly, like still water that runs deep.
‘The Egg and the Rock’ is a diptych consisting of two heads quite different in size and material, which create a silent dialogue between them and the building, the Garage atrium, where they are located. The artist says that there is no ideal spot where you can stand to get the best view of the installation. On the other hand, this is a work that needs to be explored with your eyes while walking in circles around the two heads and between them. Movement helps you to fully absorb the texture of the two sculptures and the playful juxtaposition of organic and industrial materials. Only then, it becomes evident that the two heads are not in contrast with each other. They are in a constant dialogue, sometimes even humorous, about whatever life is made of between the moment soon after birth and the moment just before death. Accordingly, in the museum atrium one finds oneself between innocence (the egg) and experience (the rock). It would be odd to believe that this is a space in which one waits for something to happen. This is a museum, after all. Life is already happening.
Natalia Turnova. The Egg and the Rock
June 1 – August 22, 2021