Natacha Best is a well established artist who splits her time between Paris, France and Hydra Island Greece. Natacha is a water colourist who presents intensely detailed scenes of Hydra that are instantly recognisable by Hydra fans, making her work extremely accessible and popular.
Written by Will Shank
Art Historian, Curator and Conservator
Copyright Hydra 2007
NATACHA BEST lives inside her paintings.
The pristine buildings, painstakingly rendered in her watercolors, are the place where she resides, creatively. In real life a self-described nomad who has never owned a home of her own, she creates her own architectural environment every time she touches brush to paper.
In the world of NATACHA BEST the electric lines have been erased, and the piles of stone rubble surrounding the historic buildings on a Greek island are tidily eliminated.
In much the way that the artist composes herself, meticulously, with every strand of hair in place, every color of bauble chosen to match every other gem in the multiple bracelets that ring her slender wrists, NATACHA BEST paints with precision. Having begun her career as a miniaturist, she holds on to the tools of her youth, and even when painting on a larger scale, she uses tiny brushes sometimes of only a few hairs each.
One suspects that were there to be people in her architectural renderings, they would look just like the artist herself. Calm and composed. Styled and coiffed to the nth degree of perfection. Where are the people in these pristine townscapes? They are populated only by the artist, who invites the viewer to enter her perfect and pristine world. Self-taught in fine art, but educated in art history at the Sorbonne and the Louvre, NATACHA BEST draws upon her innate gift as a colorist, applying the watercolors thickly to her plein-air sketches. Too private a person to paint outdoors in public view, the artist sketches on site and paints in her studio.
Using watercolors not in broad washes, but applying them tightly in the traditional manner of oil painters, she denies the medium its intended use, letting loose only in the broad expanses of her skies. These heavenly renderings occasionally take on the cubist manipulation of a Cézanne landscape (e.g. “Hydra Port 2”). But the reflections of buildings and boats in her Aegean seas are applied in the constrained, stroke-by-stroke, precision of the egg tempera painters of the early Italian Renaissance.
Her perceptive choices of perspective, of which she claims modestly to be completely ignorant, recall the best of American so-called primitives like Grant Wood in a sweeping birds-eye view, for instance, from the top of a Greek island 'Hydra Top 1'. NATACHA BEST‟s rendering of the nuances of reflected light under a series of white vaulted arches 'Naxos Arche' brings to mind the stark interiors of the painters of Netherlandish churches.
The finely rendered doors and windows belie a deeper meaning. “They fascinate me,” Natacha Best says. “When I paint a portrait the first thing I paint is the eyes, which are the doorway to the soul. When I paint a house, doors and windows are very important because it‟s the same; it‟s like a portrait of the house, and the means of access to the soul of the house.”
Natacha places herself, and chooses her subjects near the water. The buildings often appear twice, once in reality and then a second time in reflection. “I cannot live far away from the water because for me the water is something primordial. The reflections are becoming more and more important in my paintings. I worked for years with light and shadows and now I am slowly, slowly entering more into nature and reflections in the water.” Reflective works indeed.
Art Historian, Curator and Conservator
Written - Hydra 2007
The paintings in the following gallery are for sale and can be purchased online and delivered by courier. Please view gallery for painting details, sizes & prices.
If you are interested in purchasing an original water colour painting by Natacha Best please enquire using the email form below. Natacha speaks French, English and Greek fluently.
Commissions for paintings of your favourite Hydra view are considered, again please get in touch by email.
Payment & Deliver: Prices of paintings for sale do not include packaging and delivery. The price is calculated by weight and destination and delivery is by courier from Hydra to anywhere in the world. Once delivery price is agreed, you will be sent account details for you to deposit the full amount due and you will be given a courier tracking number.