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Olga Shangina's creative searches are defined by her wish to create an integrated harmonious world, which, having something in common with the surrounding life, reminds other reality similar to one's sleeps, visions, or dreams. This ideal world is occupied by graceful maidens, whose smooth curves of bodies build a musical rhythm of the movement of lines. The author aspires to render not only their external appearances and the surrounding environment, but, first of all, the women's inner world: their emotions, feelings and thoughts.

The fragile heroines of her pictures as if came from the dreams or the parallel worlds. Their almost incorporeal high figures are interwoven with the light net of lines. Sometimes, an effect of contrast is used when the surrounding objects are painted distinctly and concretely, while the women, on the contrary, are rendered transparently, by hint, as if dissolved in the environment, and even doubts appear whether they exist actually, or it is only a vision (First Snow, Yellow Roses, the Origin of Dew).

The natural environment is a space of imagination where ordinary objects of reality harmoniously interrelate with fantastic creatures. The image of a huge fish floating in the sky appears of the branches of trees (Autumn Mirror). Something similarly to a headdress is formed of woman's hair resembling either the sky with the flying birds and clouds, or the branches of trees, (the Winter series). This background emerges from the water, air and light creating the Solaris of women's dreams.

An artist comprehends reality intuitively and subconsciously. In Olga's creative art the search for unrevealed essence of the world is made through symbols. In such a way originate the images-metaphors, poetic personifications: women-flowers - embodiments of tenderness and originality, women-corals - the inhabitants of the deep-water world, and women-pearls - the invaluable gift of the ocean admiring one with the richness of shades.

The artist’s favorite theme is the water elements. Water appears as an unexplored world, a space of other existence. It possesses sacred and magic qualities symbolizing the female beginning. Water also is a sign of eternal movement and a relentless course of time.

The inhabitants of the “underwater kingdom” are similar to their natural environment. Women, fishes, corals and a sea-bottom are changeable and mysterious, soft and pliable, and are constantly flowing like the elements surrounding them. They live in their own wonderful and integral world forming a single whole with it. The peculiar features of female images in the Bathers series are their full abstractedness from the external world, contemplation and absorption in their own world of feelings and thoughts.

Fish is represented here as a beautiful attractive creature capable of mystical regenerations. Perfection of Its natural form brings an aesthetic pleasure, also it appears as a multilevel symbol supposing many iterpritation. Fish is a sacred embodiment of the spirit of water, personification of spiritual essence hidden under the visible cover of things. This creature's bewitching movements give the sensation of soaring, while its elusiveness is associated with the escaping fluidity of time.

One more symbol reflecting the transience of time is the image of a horse which from times immemorial was endowed with sacred qualities and was connected with the elements of wind, fire and water. In the Eternal Way series the running horses-clouds and herds-rivers personify the «spirit of time» decoratively transforming the omnipotence of nature.

The painter often uses the images of rain and snow, which impart not only an original color to figurative sounding, but are the full acting personages of her compositions. The silvery drops falling on the wet table-top bewitch one's sight (the White Flowers series, Judith-2). In the Origin of Dew series each drop is becoming similar to jewels with magnificent facets and flickering lights. The rain appears as a gift of the heavens, while the flower ts as an alive essence endowed with soul and magnetic attractiveness. The usual natural phenomenon is perceived as a miracle, the only and unique gift of the heavens which one can't but admire and feast their eyes on it.

The headdresses of many heroines - big, bold and impudent, or on the contrary, playful and small - render the mood, or even reveal the character of their owners. Some hats can be transformed into landscapes: to be braided with twisted blossoming plants, to turn into clouds, or the crones of trees. For example, the spherical headdress transforms a charmjng woman's head into an unforgettable dandelion ( Composition ą 1).The transparent running fabrics decorated with intricate patterns form special ornamental spaces, not less attractive than their magic surroundings. The textures of decorative surfaces, including the figures of the heroines themselves, acquire the qualities of jewelry: the drops of dew In the hair are transforming Into pearls, corals, emeralds...

Light, by emphasizing color nuances, strengthens the emotional structure of the artist's works. The beam of light takes the image out of dense darkness and endows It with vital and sensual energy (Lunar Wine, Space of Dream). In depicting the seasons of the year the color scheme can be restrained and ascetic (the Winter  series) fragile and gentle (the Spring series), or dense and rich in rendering summer and gold - in rendering autumn.

Original is her series of still-lifes C'est la vie which hardly can be referred to the genre of “unanimated nature”. The images of ordinary attributes of every-day life placed in the unusual environment or their unexpected comparison, give a special Ironical implication to her works. Thus, appeared the «Old Lovelace», where the image of a man is given indirectly through the symbolism of objects revealing the personage's character. Combination of a landscape with a still-life imparts a philosophical meaning to her work, because the masks and letters - the symbols of the past - are united with the night path going deep into the picture as a symbol of future time (Unwritten Letters). In general, the displays of animism - spiritualizing of inanimate objects and phenomena - are the peculiar features inherent to the painter's many works. ,

The Golden Twilight or a Red Cat series isinfluenced by quite a real personage, a full member of the artist's family - a magnificent red cat Semen. In Olga’s pictures it acquires a status of a godlike monumental creature occupying the whole space of the canvas, both in painterly and meaningful terms.

Many works by Olga Shangina have the stylistics of art nouveau: composition built by a circle, application of undulating forms abundance of decorative elements, as well as lyricism and mysticism and the lack of parallelism and symmetry.

She often uses mythological ,and bible themes imparting an intonation sounding of art nouveau to them. Such are her sensual Leda, pearl Aphrodite born by the sea deep, womanly Europe, seductive Judith, and Danae full of contentment between sleep and awakening. The space of Olga Shangina's painterly images is a symbolical embodiment of female dreams in realjty.  


Ekaterina Reznikova, Ph.D. (art history)      

Olga Shangina
Artwork title: West wind (private collection). Artist: Olga ShanginaArtwork title: Rescue of a wounded bird . Artist: Olga Shangina
Artwork title: Series Artwork title: Remembering the moons. Artist: Olga Shangina