Japanese Gardens and Russian Icons

There, in a magic garden, the air is as fresh as a crystal,
A heart does not know what sorrow means,
There, under every blade of grass and under every leaf,
Life is in full swing...

Tatiana Naumova
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Japan This country has always been a sort of a mysterious attraction for me. In my imagination (as Ive never been there) Japan is a boundless blooming garden, where elegant kimono-clad beauties gracefully promenade, with a shade of laughter in their eyes and a charming semi-smile on their lips. Not so long ago in Moscow I managed to meet one of such women. It was as if she had stepped towards me out of a magic scented garden. Her name is Naomi and shes exactly the kind of woman I saw in my visions. Amazingly delicate, with a subtle perception of the world around, naturally and fancily she combines within herself the cultural traditions both of Japan and the Arab world, and even Russia. I was lucky to touch the world of Naomis pictures, and through it - the world of her soul.
Naomi Maki
Naomi Maki
Foto: Marfa Naumova

Naomi Maki. The Han River
Naomi Maki. The Han River

The ability to see in a given scene the general sense for all times and for every living soul - is a rare gift. Having seen Naomis The River of Eternity, inspired by the Han River in South Korea, I realized that the person in front of me had this gift. And then, looking at her other works, I discovered that they had no specific image but rather a kind of anticipation of something that was about to be revealed. These are music sounds preceding the birth of a song or the palette where colours are mixed in order to create a masterpiece.

Alongside with this gift God gave Naomi the ability to penetrate deep into the essence of the culture of any country. As a wife of an Arab diplomatic official, she often changes the places of living. And it can happen at any time. She dedicates her works to every new country. Or, rather the culture of a given country, enriching Naomis inner world, serves as a motive in her oeuvre.

Naomi Maki. Ave Maria. Naomi Maki. Russian Church Bells Ringing
Naomi Maki. Ave Maria.
Inspiration from musical composition
of Russian composer Sergey Rahmaninov
Naomi Maki. Russian Church Bells Ringing

Over the past three years of living in Russia Naomi has seen its diversity; by her sharp, creative eye she noticed a lot of very different details from icy air, that took her breath away for the first time in her life, to divine sounds of church bells. These sounds accompany Naomi on a daily basis, coming from the bell-tower of the High Monastery of St. Peter. Her fine nature sees them rushing to the sky and praising Heaven as in The Chimes and Ave Maria, inspired by Sergei Rachmaninovs music.

Naomis heart also joyfully responded to this song to God when she saw the icons by Yury Kuznetsov; those have become for her the embodiment of true Russian and very modern art. And Naomi says that they are here and now.

The icon by Yury Kuznetsov Resurrection of Christ The icon by Yury Kuznetsov Our Lady Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded
The icon by Yury Kuznetsov
Resurrection of Christ
The icon by Yury Kuznetsov
Our Lady Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded

After all, Ive always thought of them this way as well. What is the symbol of Russia for a foreigner? In Moscow it is the Saint Basils Cathedral, in St. Petersburg - the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. So, what unites these prominent monuments of Russian culture? Patchiness, colorfulness, joyfulness. These are the features of the icons by Kuznetsov; they seem to be the continuation of this topic.

Naomi Maki. In Homage to the Arab world (Mesopotamia)
But it was abstract painting by a Russian iconographer that struck Naomi most, since this style of painting is the closest one for the Japanese artist. Once Yury Kuznetsov gave me a surprising picture, depicting a woman in an abstract manner, entitled A Japanese woman. The author noted that there was much affinity between me and that lady. After I got acquainted with Naomi and perceived her as the living personification of Japan, I agreed with the iconographer.

Is it possible to express the image of Arabic language on canvas? Yes, of course! - Naomi says. So, here is her picture Unexpectedly even for the painter, the native Arabic speaker in a national costume has sneaked into this work of art: here he is!
Yuriy Kuznetsov. A Japanese woman Yuriy Kuznetsov. Pure Soul
Naomi Maki. In Homage to the Arab world (Mesopotamia) Yuriy Kuznetsov. A Japanese woman

Yuriy Kuznetsov. Pure Soul

London not the foggy one, but quite colourful, diversified, seething. There is no aspiration or direction in its motion, it is mobile in itself. But mysterious Russian soul is another pair of shoes. It enwombs so many things and is ready to spill out in a boisterous flow, ignoring the shores and washing away everything on its way; but if you really love it, it will be kind to you.

Naomi Maki. London Naomi Maki. London
Naomi Maki. London

The shining canvas is the basis of Naomis paintings. The shimmer of its liner and silver threads create a glowing aura that makes the works even more unrealistic and thus particularly attractive.

Naomi draws inspiration from her own soul, but the family has played a great role as well. Her father, Toru Maki, is a famous tenor and a talented artist. He had received a special award from Italian government as a multitalented person. His works are remarkably romantic and impressionistic. If you compare the fathers pictures with the daughters, you would say that the former are a sort of feminine while the latter are more masculine ones. This masculinity began to show up during Naomis school years in her passion for traditional Japanese martial arts, Jodo in particular (the art of samurai swordplay, originated in the XVIth century), which she has been practicing to this day.

Naomi Maki. Red on Ocher Toru Maki. The Orchid Ensemble
Naomi Maki. Red on Ocher
Inspiration from Russian Orthodox icons
Toru Maki. The Orchid Ensemble

For Naomi the idea of the martial arts seems like that: When most people think about martial art they think it is about fighting or the self-defense aspect. The real value behind the martial art is not battle, winner or loser. One of the most priceless gifts of martial arts training is to get to know yourself internally and externally. It does not stop at the doors of the dojo (training place) and in attitude we should treat other people always with love, seek truth and justice, be courteous, strive for wisdom and have faith. Martial art is a philosophy. These ethical values can and should be applied to every aspect of martial arts practitioners. The ideal level of martial arts, - practitioners says, - there is no object to battle. They just feel whole environment as one.

Moreover, the masculinity of this miniature woman shows up in her ability to shoulder a great responsibility: she brings up four children, organizes receptions at the highest level, and goes in for music and pictorial art. And with all this Naomi is still a graceful creature from a scented garden; shes like the sounds of her own name, which means both the East and the West and their union in beauty.

Naomi Maki

P.S. The author of the article expresses her profound gratitude to Tatiana Naumova an orientalist, interpreter and producer of cross-cultural activities between Japan and Russia for our meeting with Naomi as well as for the assistance in preparing this material.

Kristina Kondratieva

Global Art Communications
+7 (915) 131 00 33

Kuznetsovs style
Yuri Kuznetsov
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