Pohrebinska, Natalia

Heart Toss, 1960
Oil on canvas
48 x 49.5 in
Natalia Pohrebinska was born in Ukraine and came to America in late 1940's. She graduated from the Pratt Institute. Executed in painterly style, her abstract paintings with elements of figuration are influenced by Ukrainian folk art as well as by Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. Her main interest is paint and she has what one critic calls a "deep respect for color". Her single color often dominates the large-scale square canvases, and suggestive shapes and gestures are used to cerate a particular mood. The art is primarily about suggestions, relationships and evocations achieved through an effective interplay of color, shape and gesture.

Artist Statement:

A Special Moment
 
A special moment, while walking with Al Hansen through MOMA, sometime in 1961. Suddenly he stopped, touched my arm and pointed with his nose. Al always made those around him more conscious. There on the far left was that long Jackson Pollock painting filling the wall. In front of it, standing with his back to us, was a man in a dark gray suit, a pose of quiet appreciation ― an image out of Norman Rockwell. The man indeed was Rockwell himself.
 
Two years later, I was in the Soviet Union with a traveling graphic art exhibit, part of the JFK cultural exchange program. The exhibit featured a studio workshop. I was one of three artists working directly in front of the public. Being a passionate young abstract expressionist, I quickly switched from printing to painting. Although this delighted our exhibit director, it irritated the Soviet authorities. I was heckled and ridiculed at the show by men in raincoats and green fedoras. A newspaper in Alma-Ata accused me of being a hostile American.
 
The next city was Moscow, where we were unexpectedly joined by a guest artist, Norman Rockwell. He displayed on our studio wall his work, so familiar to us all from the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. I was taken aback first by the fact that the illustrations were quite large, but even more so by the fact that they were beautiful oil paintings, in particular, the painting of the African American little girl proudly walking along the old painted fence splashed and dripping with thrown tomatoes ― an unforgettably powerful image. We worked side by side. I continued painting while Norman sketched people chosen from the ever larger crowds. He was constantly questioned about abstract art and his opinion of it. He found himself in the position of constantly defending me and abstract expressionism in general, revealing that his own son was an abstract painter. Our friendship was genuine and is still fresh in my mind.

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