Loneliness and Art

This spring Nathalia Edenmont’s unique

pictures are shown at Sven-Harry’s, an art museum in Stockholm, at an exhibition called ”Only me”.

Nathalia Edenmont Only Me

 Nathalia Edemont: Only Me


Nathalia’s works of art are touching, frightening, disgusting… when I first saw her photography at the Swedish Institute in Paris (2011) I couldn’t assimilate them. At Sven-Harry’s I dared to approach them, analyse them and let them affect me. Maybe it was a question of mood, or of light or the space at Sven-Harry’s?

Nathalia Edenmont was born in 1970 in Ukraine and lost her parents as a young teenager; after which she had to depend entirely on herself. Despite that, she managed to move to Sweden in 1991 to seek her luck there as an artist. By then she had already attended Kiev’s State owned art school as well as another in Krim and learned to become a painter (1984-87) in the socialist-realistic vein. A few years later, she took up her studies again at Forsberg School in Stockholm (1998-2001).

It is however as a photographer rather than as a painter that she owned her reputation, but it is well-composed photography not dissimilar to 1700-century still lives or self-portraits, resembling ancient paintings.

Composition and light:

Even if Nathalia has chosen photography as her favourite means of expression, her knowledge of classical painters is obvious. The way she uses the light reminds me of some of Rembrandt’s works, her compositions are carefully thought through as well and assembled, including symbols and colour combinations.  Their ingenuity isn’t immediately obvious, but appears as one studies the works.

Nathalia Edenmont FamilyNathalia Edenmont’s Family

Religious motives – often including a sense of humour – are incorporated into her photography: the trinity for example is shown in her pictures “The Father, the Mother and the Son” depicting herself clad in different garments – carrying a naked child in her arms. It can also be interpreted as her grief over having lost both her parents and her inability to have her own children (despite 5 marriages!).

”Ripley” is the name of a still life depicting a dead hen with a hand holding an egg sticking out of its rear – another blink towards the ancient still life painters or a reflection over life that continues to grow despite or because of death?

”Mastery” is a fantastic photography made of a sea of colourful butterflies – similar to a kaleidoscope – symbols of death according to ancient myths, but equally of renewal and of feminine intuition.

”Family” is a photography of Nathalia clad in a long black 1900-century dress with two white kitchen chairs on either side of her, representing her dead parents. That each chair’s leg stands on her dress means however that there is continuity through the generations.

”Only child” is one of her strongest and most disturbing picture where she holds a piece of red, blood-dripping meat in her arms (the child that was never born) and it is infested with white worms that crawl all over.

In order to finish on a lighter tone, I just want to mention the photography ”Libido” where the person has – like any Baroque portrait from the Netherlands – a high collar but instead of the time’s stiff cloth, it has been replaced by a series of tampons! A critique the priests’ stiffness or of Freudian sexual theories?

Despite the fact that each painting carries multiple symbols, most of them have in common an unbearable pain – a pain one doesn’t really want to take in, a loneliness, an abandonment. In that sense, Nathalia’s pictures remind me of some of Frida Kahlo’s works of art. With the difference that Nathalia keeps a certain distance through her sense of humour, which lights up her sombre motives. Both women show a realistic, raw suffering that they manage to sublimate into great art where each one of us can recognize oneself. That is true art!

Anne Edelstam, Stockholm.




About Anne

Swedish journalist, photographer, editor and writer. Based in Paris, France.