By Christopher Cottrell/Image: Christopher Cottrell
As a Russian artist and intellectual based in Manila, Philippines, Natalya Bronzova’s mind is a work of art and precision in its own right. She has a fine attention to details. As a raconteur, she has a wonderful way of discussing how she came to know and write a book about Imelda Marcos. Her passionate paintings speak volumes about her imagination. The Peace Post spoke with her about her work and ideas about the fascinating country of the Philippines.
Tell us about your previous books on the Philippines?
During my first trip to the Philippines I was fascinated with the country and wrote all my impressions and experience into a dairy, which I turned into book after I came back to Canada. The book title is: “The Philippines – a country of kindness and gratitude”. I did many professional photos while traveling and met very charming and kind people; that is why I completed my book with photos and different amazing stories which happened to me here
On my second trip to the Philippines I met the world legend First Lady Hon. Imelda R. Marcos and was overwhelmed by her nice attitude to me; I never expected she would agree to an interview with me… But a miracle happened and two weeks later she invited me to her Makati residence and our interview lasted over five hours! Very inspired, I asked if I could accompany her in the 2013 election campaign and Mme Marcos kindly invited me her residence in Batac, Ilocos Norte. This started our very special friendship and gave life to my second Filipino book: “Imelda – true, good and beautiful”. By her own words, it is the best book written about her, simply because I wrote about her kind soul and personality, which I deeply admire!
My third book was about spiritual people of the Philippines, titled: “Homo Spiritus”. I sincerely hope that one day, my books will be volume printed, but for the moment they are available on Amazon and Blurb Web sites.
Why did you decide to become a painter?
I don’t think a person simply decides to be a painter. Life moves you to express your feelings, emotions, knowledge and experience into canvas. It is very difficult to reveal your inner world to the public. One has to be mentally very strong to be able to show his own soul and mind on canvas and be ready for people judge and comment it. I was able to do so only about 11 years ago, while I did paint since my childhood years…
How does your study of history inform your painting?
My greatest passion is history and historically outstanding personalities, who actually are changing the world! That is why Mme. Imelda was an idol of my childhood and I was fascinated when met her in life. Later, I even made a painting of her.
My paintings are very much influenced by history, legends and my own dreams, based on history knowledge. I was able to create my own style, which is not easy in our modern world when every possible style and media has been expressed! Even I myself could not copy my own paintings and for sure no one else is able to. The most difficult thing for any artist is to be different from others, yet I did nothing on purpose to be different. It happened naturally because I simply splash my feelings on canvas.
What are some key themes your paintings desires to seek out?
In my opinion, the best paintings are those, which you are never tired to look at; one must have the urge to want to live in the reality on the canvas. Many times I heard people saying that they wanted to go inside my canvases, to experience that dream reality… This is highest compliment for me. The purpose of any painting is to give emotions and preferably, good ones, so people feel inspired and recharged with good vibrations. From the many comments on my late exhibition at the CCP, I feel that I have reached that goal! The CCP exhibition was successful not only because I was presented by the Russian embassy and unveiled by ambassador Igor Khovaev, but because people feel positive energy flow from my canvases! I was really happy and fulfilled that day.
How has living in the Philippines inspired your work?
The Philippines really enriched my paintings because it is a spiritual country with beautiful nature, sea and mountains, wonderful sunsets and amazing colors…All that finds a place on my canvases!
What do you miss about Russia?
I miss the Russian summer with its special forest smell, full of linden, jasmine and lilac trees flourishing… I miss the Russian countryside and so many ancient historical cities with centuries of great history and culture. All these things made me as an artist and as a person. I also miss our Russian food and of course, our great New Year and Easter celebrations, which we do in a very different way from any other countries!
Who are some painters you admire and that influence you?
I find that the greatest painter of the 20th. Century is Nicolay Roerich, the Russian philosopher who lived much of his life in the Himalayas. He is my guru in paintings because his art is very spiritual and based on deep knowledge of history as far back as the Biblical times such as: Hyperborea, Arian and Vedic sacred knowledge. His art is not much promoted in the world, but I must add that he is the one who created “the Peace pact” which we know now as UNESCO – the World Heritage Protection organization. Also Nicolay Roerich was the designer for the modern dollar bill, the currency much of the world uses today!
Will you be bringing your paintings to China someday?
Thank you for your great suggestion! I would love to expose in China because China is very much into art and it has it’s own charm and spirituality. One can always recognize Chinese artists and at the same time they are interested about the art works of others. I think China will become a world leader in art! I’d like to visit China one day and make some writings and paintings about.