A text by Lena Zaidel for Natasha Kuznetzova exhibition: For Whom the Music is Playing? 2012
HaBait HaAdom Gallery, Tel-Aviv


Natasha Kuznetzova, Migration, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 120X500  

Natasha from Africa

Let us imagine for a moment that we are all Africans. Our ancestors were also Africans. We are all from the African continent. We left Africa and are now living in Tel Aviv, Paris, London, or in any other city around the planet. We are the new population on this planet.... Such musings arise while contemplating the series of works by Natasha Kuznetzova, which bears the mysterious name, "For Whom the Music is Playing." "For Whom...," perhaps means, "Who is the main player here?" or, "To whom does this planet, Planet Earth, belong"?

Natasha begins from the beginning - with Genesis, and the first triptych in the series is called, "Adam and Eve." It is quite large, made with sharp acrylic paints that brings to mind, as do the other works in the series, a street poster which has graffiti qualities. On the outer sides of the triptych, which is entirely on a green background, stand an African Adam and Eve, and between them, in the center part of the triptych, lies a rhinoceros whose legs are tied, while each segment of the triptych has its own rhinoceros standing in the background. What is the meaning of this? This symbolic painting demands an interpretation.... Green skies, green grass, and a strip of white land at the base of the painting.

The painting is composed of complementary colors - red and green, while the earth remains bright, almost white, throughout the entire series. The color white on a geographic map represents unexplored continents. Or, that have yet to be named. Until here, things are still somehow appropriate for the Garden of Eden. But the image of a rhinoceros whose legs are tied is very troubling. What is this? Brute life-force that is blocked and its potential not actualized? Primal forces of nature not expressed? Perhaps the potential of humanity at large? Or of the African people? At the same time, the tied rhinoceros raises associations of "rhinocerosation," of thick-skinned indifference and of merciless aggressiveness.... If so, perhaps the image alludes to the aggressiveness connected with its feet, and that the human spirit has subdued the primal brute drives? Obviously, Natasha´s works provide no answers, and these are only riddles that give rise to prickly and troubling question marks.


From right to left: Oded Zaidel, Mikhail Grobman, Natasha Briliantova, Lena Zaidel, Natasha Kuznetzova, Yakov Shaus, Irina Vrubel-Golubkina, Mikhail Yahilevich´s, ...2012

In another work called, "Migration," we are confronted in the center part of the triptych by an African baby in diapers who is standing on an image of the globe, while a star-studded halo, reminiscent of the emblem of the European Union, is above his head. On the outer segments of the triptych, to the right and left of the baby, urban scenery, reminiscent of a Tel Avivian marina, or the streets of southern Tel Aviv, spreads out. These streets are filled with African people.

In context of recent events, this unequivocally turns Natasha Kuznetzova into a political artist. However, Natasha is not taking any stand, only contemplating, showing what she sees and presenting before us a clever weaving of artistic facts. She is not hastily hiding beneath the innocent statement, "I am only painting what I see," but rather, declaring loudly, "This is how I see the current situation...." So indeed, the human scene has changed. And indeed, the streets are filled with people of African origin. And yes, the Messiah has appeared in the form of an African baby, perhaps it is Jesus, our new Tel Avivian Messiah. Ours and the European Union´s.

The images progressively increase: a woman reminiscent of Michelle Obama is treading on pages of the traditional French newspaper, La Monde; African priests are blessing the world against the background of exposed buttocks and breasts on street signs. The old world is contracting and disappearing while cultural and ethnic changes are taking place. The new world is in the process of becoming. How will it look? To where will it lead? We cannot know. Natasha has certainly created here a powerful declaration.... But the conclusions? You will not get them from Natasha....

And we must not forget that these are only paintings, though obviously, a good painting never remains "just a painting." Thus, it would be meaningless to wonder what would happen to Natasha´s paintings if we could separate the painting from the message. Politics is an integral part of her works. Yet, though the social and political messages are quite provocative, they are simultaneously one of the essential elements of Kuznetzova´s palette, just like acrylic colors or the canvas.

So, we now have a clear picture: representatives of the African people are with us, also on European streets and everywhere else on the planet. This is what the global village looks like. This is what Natasha Kuznetzova´s "The New Gospel" looks like. On the other hand, it is not that we didn´t know.... We assume that Natasha herself has roots in Africa. For isn´t she too of African descent ... just like us ...?

Lena Zaidel, 2012
Translation from Hebrew: Yehoshua Yair 



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Measurements are given in centimeters, height ª width
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are taken by Michael Amar, unless otherwise noted.

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