Way to Art

Amur-Nizhnyodniprovskii district is an industrial left bank of the city of Dnipro. I was born exactly here in village Vorontsovka on September 1, 1926. My father, Ivan Gubarev (1898–1958) worked as a roller in a metallurgical plant “Komintern” all his life. My mother, Serafima Gubareva (1896–1978) (maiden name Portianko), came from a large peasant family. After having her third baby, she devoted herself to upbringing children and housekeeping. There were brothers: Volodymyr (1922-1995), Viktor (1924-1952).

I spent my childhood and youth walking around factories and the Dnipro. My soul absorbed not only the mildness of the river but also the fires of blast and open-hearth furnaces, factory whistle and stern rhythm of metal constructions, reliable nature of strong and brave men.

I started painting and drawing when I was a young child. There was not any system. The surroundings where I grew up had nothing to do with art. At the age of 8 I got wounded seriously because of the explosion of a pyroxylin cartridge and my left hand was amputated. Most of usual jobs were unsuitable for me after that. My family decided that my aspiration for painting demanded thorough education. My first art teacher was Ivan Horbonosov, Odesa Art School graduate. Two years of studying at Ivan Horbonosov were not in vain, it was a moment when I started learning the technique of art. After that I visited art clubs in Children’s out-of-school training centre and Dnipropetrovsk palace of pioneers. This is how my first steps to the Art started, which turned to hard work, which lasted for a long time to achieve my goal.

On Sunday June 22, 1941 at the lesson of composition in the palace of pioneers there was an announcement sounded from the loudspeakers that Nazi Germany had invaded the USSR. The war broke out and the other life started. The war lasted four years, I spent two years living in occupation which meant hunger, poverty, grave danger awaiting you. In many years I reproduced some events of the wartime in the series of linocuts “Unforgettable” and “The Signs of the War”.

On September 23, 1943 thousands of the residents of the left bank were violently convoyed by German soldiers over the Amur bridge to the right bank of the Dnipro. There was my mother with me among those exiles. Retreating German troops destroyed and burnt everything, leaving a desert after them. The ones who did not follow the orders were shot. Our house was burnt. Half way along we managed to drop behind the column of people who were driven to Kryvyi Rih to be taken to Germany. After that there were four years of miseries in the combat zone controlled by the Germans. Every moment we could have met gendarmes and then the only one thing could happen – execution.

At the end of January, 1944 village Ternivka, Sophiiv district, where we were hiding at that time, was liberated from the Germans by the Red Army. At the beginning of February we were at home. Our Vorontsovka had been burnt down. There was a small shed left which became our home for several years. My mother started working as a nurse in a policlinic. I got a job in a studio at defense ministry retail shop of Kharkiv military region. I did different kinds of work: painted signboards, posters, designed posters in a military hospital, wrote slogans on asphalt during komsomol conferences.

The war brought a lot of suffering to our family. My father and brothers were at war in the Red Army, under different circumstances they spent some time in German labour camps. My father came back home from Dresden in 1945, my brother Volodymyr (the war finished for him in Prague on 9 May, 1945) came back home in 1946. After finishing Dnipropetrovsk building college he worked for trust “Metallurgist installation #202”. My brother Viktor’s fate was tragic. After being demobilized, in two weeks he was arrested and condemned to 8 years in prison under Article 54-104. II of the Penal Code of Ukrainian SSR. He died tragically in Kolyma in 1952.

In 1944 Dnipropetrovsk art college was open again. Having passed entrance examinations with flying colours, I became a student of art faculty. The college was situated on the first floor of the art museum. During the war it was partially ruined. Neither cold classrooms nor life’s difficulties and other inconveniences prevent the students from studying hard. My art teachers were Mykola Pohrebnyalk and Oleksandr Kuko. They were amazing teachers. M. Pohrebnyak educated love of beauty and aesthetic taste, he was a collector and an expert of Ukrainian folk art. I graduated from the college in 1949. I got an honors diploma for the painting devoted to Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

The same year I entered Kyiv State Art Institute, graphic faculty. My teachers were V. Kasian, O. Pashchenko, I. Pleshchinkyi and I. Krasnyi. In 1955 I graduated from the institute and got a degree in easel graphic arts (supervisor – Professor O. Pashchenko). My graduation work is a series of autolithographies “Dnipro” was awarded and I was sent to work at art department of the magazine “Ukraine”.

At the same time I worked as an illustrator for the magazines “Vsesvit”, “Zmina”, “Ranok”, “Radyanska Zhinka”, “Barvinok”, “Malyatko”. I made over 500 drawings. I worked on the design of the publishing houses “Ditvydov”, “Molod”, “Veselka”, “Muzychna Ukraine”. I drew illustrations for 32 books. I am an author of 90 bookplates and a lot of different holiday greetings, made in the technique of a linocut.

A Linocut, watercolour and gouache have become the main techniques in easel paintings as well. I made less works in the techniques of oil painting. Looking for new impressions, I travelled about Ukraine and on the territory of the former Soviet Union. These trips resulted in different series of watercolours and linocuts. As a member of all-USSR commission of watercolour of the Union of the artists of the USSR I often headed all-USSR groups of artist-watercolorists.

I like working right on location. It gives an opportunity to reproduce via paintings a unique moment of artist’s meeting with nature. I can do it best when I work with watercolours whereas a linocut is hard and continuous work in a studio, which gives an opportunity, but not always, to embody successfully what has been planned, in the techniques of engraving. Many years had passed before creative work due to daily dedicated work became a necessity of life and sweet work.

In 1960 I became a member of the union of the artists of Ukraine.

Since 1976 I have been an honoured artist of Ukraine.

Since 1993 I have been a people's artist of Ukraine.

I participated in different exhibitions – since 1954, all-USSR – since 1955, foreign – since 1964.

There were 14 personal exhibitions from 1968 to 2003.

The paintings which were exposed on the exhibitions got 26 different diplomas. The works are kept in the museums of Ukraine, Russia, CIS, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, Canada, as well as in the private collections in these countries and the USA, Italy and France.