Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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Since April 28, 2017, the Non-Governmental Museum Named after Nicholas Roerich went defunct with the illegal seizure of its building and territory.

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“Beauty Around Us”: the painting exhibition by Elena Yakovleva and Natalia Bazhenova at the Roerichs' Memorial Estate


The first day of the Russian-Indian Roerichs Cultural Festival on October 5, 2022 was marked by the colorful event: the opening of the painting exhibition by Elena Yakovleva (Russia) and Natalia Bazhenova (Kazakhstan) in the Conference Hall of the International Roerich Memorial Trust. The red ribbon was solemnly cut by the guests of honor: Mr Pavel Zhuravikhin, head of the delegation and executive secretary of the International Center of the Roerichs (Moscow) and Mrs Tamara Merges, head of the volunteer group of the International Center of the Roerichs, coordinator of the Children-Youth Festival “Russia-India: from Heart to Heart”.

The artists have already visited the Roerichs’ estate in Kullu. In 2016 Natalya Bazhenova, an artist from Kazakhstan, visited the Roerichs’ estate, and in the autumn of 2019 Elena Yakovleva, a Russian artist from Moscow. The Himalayas captivated them with their grandeur and beauty, and a dream of holding an exhibition of paintings in the Roerichs Himalayan estate was born in their hearts. And now, having come to IRMT in the volunteer team of the International Centre of the Roerichs, they fulfilled their dream – to present their art in the estate of the great Master of the Mountains, as they call Nicholas Roerich in India.

“The Himalayas are a treasure trove of inspiration for the artist,” says Elena Yakovleva. Her first trip to the Himalayas inspired her to create a series of paintings dedicated to the vibrant nature and culture of India, its temples, deities and sacred trees, as well as people closely connected with the mountains and local culture. Her exhibition “Faces of India under the Sacred Himalayas” in recent years has visited various cities in Russia.

In the exhibition presented at the Roerichs' Memorial estate the artist decided to unite Russia and India. In her paintings she depicted places associated with the names of the Roerichs. These are the Izvara estate in the north of Russia, where Nicholas Roerich began his life and work; the Roerichs’ estate in Naggar (now IRMT); the Lopukhins’ estate in Moscow, where Svetoslav Roerich transferred his parents’ heritage to create the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich; the Tataguni estate near Bangalore (India), where Svetoslav Roerich and Devika Rani lived.

Russia and India also vibrate in the paintings, which depict the mountainous landscapes of the Himalayan Rohtang Pass and the Lahul Valley, as well as the Russian Altai with its majestic Belukha Mountain. And of course, roses which are Elena Yakovleva’s favorite flowers. “The best roses of the East and West equally beautifully fragrant” – the artist recalls a poetic statement of Nicholas Roerich. Flowers is one of the favorite themes of her creativity, although she makes paintings on different subjects and in different genres. Elena Yakovleva’s works are in many private collections in Russia and abroad.

The paintings by Natalya Bazhenova presented at the exhibition are, first of all, Kazahastan landscapes. They depict the Irtysh River in her hometown Pavlodar; the pier, where the Roerich family stayed during the Central Asian expedition; landscapes of the Almaty foothills; the Kazakh steppe, its sunrises and sunsets. “These studies are painted in one breath,” the artist says, “as an attempt to catch the moment, the elusive state of nature”.

One of the works, “Birth of the Sun”, is made of felt. She studied at the Applied Arts Department of the Kazakh National Academy of Arts named after T.Zhurgenov; she was good at both weaving and creating felt panels and weaving pictures of steppe reeds. It is no coincidence that Natalia Bazhenova is the head of the Applied Art Department of Kazakhstan at the Kasteev State Museum of Arts of Kazakhstan. But nevertheless most of all she loves painting. She is the member of the Kazakhstan Artists Union and the participant of more than seventy national and international exhibitions.

“Painting is my outlet, giving joy to my heart,” says the artist. “I love plein air, as an opportunity to admire the beauty of nature and capture at least a little particle of it on canvas. Mixing paints on the palette, searching for the right shades is a great pleasure. There are a lot of discoveries.

One of the paintings depicts Kailas, the legendary Shiva abode, which attracts thousands of pilgrims. “The heart flutters and the soul exults at contemplation of this divine beauty,” she says about her impressions of the majestic mountain tops. The Himalayas became one of the sources of inspiration for Natalia Bazhenova, as well as the works of Nicholas Roerich, which conquered her by “the depth of thought, clarity and beauty of images, color harmony, purity and light.”

The exhibition “Beauty Around Us” worked for several days, giving true inspiration, joy and light to the visitors of the Roerichs Estate and guests of the Roerichs' Festival of Culture.

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