Natalia Kapchuk Art: The Environment in Focus

Natalia Kapchuk and The Planet made of gold on the background

Natalia Kapchuk and The Planet made of gold on the background

With the COVID-19 seemingly running the showbiz and entertainment agenda of 2020, the creative bunch is confined – like the rest of us – to their homes. The luckiest ones – to their live-in studios and workshops. The landscape ahead is unsettling – concerns for the financial situation, the importance of their message, the channels of communication, everything is one big question mark.

Ikon London Magazine caught up with one of the London-based creatives – model turned artist Natalia Kapchuk – who greeted us from a screen of a laptop from her London-based studio. Kitted in a gray T-shirt and black hoodie, the artist admits: “it’s the most comfortable outfit to do housework, cook, and work in the studio. If I do something with spray paint, then I always have a couple of hoodies here. I love the casual style”. It paints a completely different picture from the glammed-up socialite we used to see on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival. Intrigues, we ask how she feels about the event being canceled this year and how she handles the Coronavirus lockdown.

Natalia admits, “A few years ago, the cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival would have been terrible news to me. But lately, my values have somewhat changed. I am more concerned about the postponing and cancellation of environmental summits and conferences, such as the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development and COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.”

Natalia Kapchuk Studio Tour

Natalia Kapchuk in her studio

Natalia Kapchuk in her studio

On our 12-inch laptop screen, Natalia shows us around. On numerous shelves in her uber tidy workroom, we can see pots of acrylic paints, sticks, cups, and other tools and bits and bobs. “Here, I keep a selection of pigments, powders, inks, and liquid tinters. And on the lower shelf, there is a range of granular materials, decorative stones, and crystals. Usually, it goes to the top coating layer,” smiles Natalia as she continues her tour.

“Here are my gloves and special spray mask for work, it calls activated carbon spray paint respirator. It protects me from toxic chemical vapors.” Such an important daily attribute in artists’ workshop used to look very futuristic in a not so distant past. As if reading our thoughts, the host attests” “I didn’t think that one day a mask would become an integral part of everyday life, but this respirator is the one I use only in my studio, not for going out during these days.”

Speaking of our daily changes, we ask how Natalia handles the lockdown. She attests,” Lockdown allowed me to spend more time working in the studio. I tried to work with fiberglass and managed to do two new pieces. One is dedicated to desert treasures, the other to mountain glaciers.” She continued, “Apart from working on my art, I make sure to pay more attention to my loved ones, cook some healthy food and exercise at home.”

Upcoming Exhibition The Lost Planet

Carbon Clouds by Natalia Kapchuk

Carbon Clouds by Natalia Kapchuk

Kapchuk’s upcoming exhibition is titled The Lost Planet. She is not trying to hide her excitement talking about the exhibition. “Most of the pieces for The Lost Planet are ready. I was not in a hurry to create them, but I wanted to keep within a certain time frame.” The exhibition was initially penned down for June but following on the steps of all mass gatherings in the Western world and beyond, it has been postponed until November.

There is a lot to lay your eyes upon in Natalia’s works. The blue waters of an ocean hiding its rich marine life, or a greenfield of the Amazon rainforest, or melting polar glaciers of the Antarctic, sparkling in the sun. “Usually, the theme of each work focuses on certain environmental concerns,” explains the artist.

“Last year’s fires in Siberia, the Amazonian forests, and Australia greatly worried me. I made 3 pieces about this large problem, each in its own way. The subject of plastic pollution has also appeared in several works. I like to approach each issue from different angles, so it will be difficult to dwell on one visual concept. In addition, many environmental issues are related to each other. Massive production and consumption of plastic affect the amount of waste, most of which goes into the ocean. The more products society consumes, the more companies produce, and the more fuel they need. Everything is interconnected.”

Indeed, the dependencies are way too complex and variables way too many. So many in fact, that even IPCC reports often don’t stand the scrutiny. Who knows, maybe artists with their inherent gift of lateral thinking will be able to offer a fresh perspective and assist the shift of our attitude towards nature and its resources.

A blue circle with, what appears to be, white snowballs flashes on the screen. This work is different from the previous ones. “It’s my experimental work on air pollution. After exploring the theme of the ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect, I wanted to shine the light on the issue. Here, at a first glance, fluffy harmless clouds don’t spoil our skies, but, in reality, it is a product of polyurethane foam. You see, the foaming agent in aerosols causes significant damage to the ozone layer.”

From the studio, Natalia leads us into the living room as she continues her virtual tour: “I hang some pieces here for a while to see how they look and fit into space. For about 3 months, The Planet Made of Gold occupied this place, now I have replaced it with one of my latest works – Ice Shelter.”

The model turned artist, we are told, doesn’t only participate in environmental activism but also organises her own initiatives to collect plastic waste in the Mediterranean Sea. “I love spending my holidays in Italy and Greece,” says Natalia with a slight smile. “So, I can’t stay away from the problems of the region if there is something I can do about it. I saw how much plastic waste floats off the coast, the damage that’s being done to marine life and the whole ecosystem. So, one day I just started fishing the waste out and bringing it to the port for further disposal. I asked my friends and followers to do the same, if possible. I am very grateful to them for their support and volunteer activity.”

There are many ways one can show its love and appreciation to the world we live in. Be it through activism or a hands-on approach of one motivated individual – every little helps, as they say. Whichever is your way of tackling the issue, you may want to check Natalia Kapchuk’s exhibition this coming November. 

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