Painters 2017

Natalia Dik

A true ‘artist’s artist’, Natalia was highly respected by the other plein air participants. Her name constantly popped up during the interviews as an inspiration to the others. Modest about her own prodigious talent, Natalia was the ideal guide with whom to view the overflowing exhibition space in Baitil Aman. Highly knowledgeable about art theory and history, she was always generous with her critiquing. Seeing the works through her eyes and hearing her evaluation gave many of the pieces on show a much deeper context.

A regular member of the painter’s festival, Natalia first visited Lamu in 2011. During her visits her English has improved enough to forgo a translator and she managed to convey her enthusiasm and excitement about her 2017 stay during our interview. She said that she could feel her palette changing – becoming lighter and warmer. “Being here makes me feel like a child again. I have regained that childish delight in seeing how the sky joins the horizon.”

Painting en plein air is very important to her. She loves the challenge of the constantly changing light and shadow, capturing those instantaneous emotions and painting the natural world. She says that the enclosed atmosphere of a studio makes her look inward. She feels that Lamu is a bridge between Africa and Europe that fuses together on this tiny island.

Natalia also bridged the two elements of this year’s festival. As well as painting plein air, she worked on a grand-scale series of five pieces for the main exhibition in the Fort. Inspired by the elements, she produced transfixing canvases that depicted man, earth, fire, wind, and air within Lamu scenes.

The enjoyment of a challenge seems to be a theme in Natalia’s artistic career. She mentions that she only began after a friend said she couldn’t paint “and I was so furious that I started.” By the age of thirteen she knew that art was her future.

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