“Natalia and NB Gallery have had a profound impact on so many lives,” says Heidi McCormack, an ardent Russian-art collector who lived in Moscow for many years.
“She has introduced many to the amazing and rich world of Russian art and wraps the journey with history and context. My life and my walls would be barren without Natalia.”
The research, collections and exhibitions of NB Gallery have helped audiences to better understand and value art that has been given stifling and rigid labels. Eramjan points to the socialist realist paintings of the 1930s as an example, and discusses how older technical traditions survived in these works.
By extensively traveling, searching, discovering and relocating paintings and drawings, NB Gallery has helped rescue artists from the almost certain obscurity that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. Interestingly, it has also demonstrated the traditional roots that have inspired some of Russia’s most famous contemporary artists.
On a recent visit, the contemporary paintings that seemed a little out of place were by the renowned modern artist Viktor Umnov. They seem discordant amidst all of the more traditional paintings, and also in NB Gallery generally.
But as it turns out, the other paintings in the room, the gorgeous cityscapes, were also by Umnov, done in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. This exhibition focused on his early career, which has been almost entirely overlooked until now. And after some thought, the newer paintings were only superficially out of place. The gallery hung the recent works to provide a more robust appreciation of his work as a whole.
Eramjan brought tea and chatted about her 24 years at the gallery. She pulled the cityscapes up close. “In a museum,” Eramjan says, “you feel a distance between you and a painting.” Not here.
Bykova is clear that she has always wanted NB Gallery to be a place “where you can relax and chat.”
And with the thousands of pieces of art that her gallery has collected and exhibited over the decades, her guiding philosophy remains straightforward and exacting: “If it’s good and outstanding, that’s what we stand on.”