Author: Kseniya Goncharova
25 Jun. 2019

Sasha Labuda: "Kyiv inspires me more than any other city in this world!"

Sometimes we perceive the things have surrounded us since childhood as something usual. We admire no longer the Kyiv Botanic Gardens in blossom in the spring or a picturesque view to Dnipro from the pedestrian bridge. But a foreigner who can afford living in any city in the world, but chooses Kyiv, inspires us to look at ordinary things with a fresh eye. A German-Ukrainian painter Sasha Labuda have been living and working in the Ukrainian capital for three years and six months, and he is not going to leave. In his bright studio in the Passage he is painting gorgeous abstract pictures, playing the cello and walking along the streets of the city.


Being a painter is not a career choice, it is rather the way of life. Why did you choose it?

I began studying early. When I was nine, a painter who was creating wooden sculptures lived in my parents' house for a while. I liked his sculptural creations. So, I came to his studio and asked him to teach to work in wood. Then I learned to paint and print. Equipped with these knowledges, I went to Paris to continue my education.


What were your achievements in the capital of artists?

I decided to enter the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and study from prominent artists of the XX century. It was a very useful training given at high professional level. Having settled at the globally known Fernand Mourlot printing house, I stayed there to work. Those fruitful years were the best art academy for me.

For many years Atelier Mourlot was the international center of lithography. These banners were real artworks. The widely known painters, such as Matisse, Bonnard, Picasso and many others, used the services of the atelier. When I worked at the Atelier Mourlot, I was fortunate enough to get acquainted with famous artists: Marc Chagall, Francis Bacon, Roberto Matta. Of course, these meetings impressed me significantly and affected my creative activities in a different way.


Do your parents have profession of art too?

My father is a businessman in Germany. He has been collecting paintings for many years, and he is very great on painting and fine-art photography. Camera is his long-standing passion. My father has read hundreds of books about it. And my mother has never taken any interest in art. She was a teacher and took care about the children. My family is big.


You studied, lived and worked in France, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Malta... And, after all, you have settled in Ukraine. Why did you decide to move?

It is a very funny story. My friend phoned me from Kyiv and told about his fascination with this city. My answer was quick. I told I would never go there. But he showed me some amazing photos. A few weeks later I packed my baggage, closed my studio in Malta and arrived to Kyiv. This was a very good choice. I could live in an ideal Paris or any other city. But it is not interesting. Kyiv may be not so fine city, but I am impressed with its atmosphere. I see a lot of active creative young people, creating new art then and there. They perceive different things and ready to experiment. They want to perceive the world and they are open to new things. It looks like a new era of art is approaching. The wind of change and freedom is blowing in Ukraine. In Paris, being a painter is like making career in office, and in Kyiv it means to have a beautiful lifestyle. I like everything in this city. Even Pozniaky. Wonderful people live everywhere.

Kyiv is a very living city where night life is very exciting. Restaurants and bars are not closed at 9 o'clock in the eventing like in many European cities. The people living here know how to relax and enjoy life. And, of course, I was impressed with the local food. I like cooking myself and having a good meal. I like borsch and varenyky. In Ukraine, people also know how to cook meat.


You visited many countries and you can compare. Is there any difference between the way of realizing a talent of painter in Ukraine and abroad?

In Europe and the USA art is 70% business. Endless negotiations on transport, price, design of frames, materials, contacts with gallery... Daily grind. I have managers working in New York and Germany. And here I can spend my time on creating. Currently, in Ukraine domestic painters get support. And that is good. I just like to be here. But it does not prevent me from working with clients in other countries.


Have your views of a man and artist changed since you have come to Ukraine?

Here I began to work more slowly, focusing more on a painting. On average, I paint 12-15 pictures every year. Unfortunately, local painters work with an effort. In Kyiv, I wanted to paint more portraits as Ukrainian have very beautiful and speaking faces. You will never see those in Malta. I often paint portraits of children as they have beautiful faces. So, the rhythm and profundity of artworks have changed, new styles of own way of painting are developing.

In general, there are ideal creative conditions for me in Ukraine. I lived in many cities, but it is not about geography. People have become more reserved. They do not want to enjoy their lives, they do not know how to do it. The indifference reigns everywhere. But not in Ukraine. Notwithstanding the difficult situation in the country, people want to live. And it inspires very much.

You always were a representative of the school of abstract expressionism? Or you tried other styles of painting?

When I started my career of painter in Paris, I painted realistic pictures. I have good skills of painting, I master many techniques. I was inspired by Roberto Matta, Rembrandt, Francis Bacon. But then I realized that I need to express my personality. Our century is very technological. Modern cameras show all the beauty of the world surrounding us, with distinct lines and bright colors. In any case, camera will do everything better than human. So, there is no need in hyperrealism. It is important for a painter to express different profundity and show the subject and emotions in more individual way. And my mission is to show this flash, deepness of emotions.

Your pictures are full of bright colors and internal power. What message do you translate by this riot of colors? What is your favorite set of colors?

Colors is the main "arm" of painters. They allow to express the beauty of the things that artists try to show. I like to use bright colors in my painting. I prefer pure natural colors – yellow, red, blue, green. I do not like black. I like to use different shadows of one color in a painting. It is very difficult technique.


A painter is said to need a muse. Where do you get subjects and inspiration to paint?

I do not need a muse. People believe that painting is based on feelings only. But this is far from being the case. It is work that need, by the way, professionalism and concentration. So, I am very grateful to Kyiv as I can concentrate and do what I like. I am inspired by the atmosphere of this city.


How to measure success of a painter in XXI century? What do you think?

I have no doubt that success is measured by the self-realization, fans, fruitful cooperation with prestigious prominent galleries. For many people a successful painter is a painter whose pictures go on exhibit in New-York, Paris or London and are sold for big money. It is a recognized measure of success. Money, self-realization and glory. You can not escape it. People think you are successful, but they have no idea of what you do. But for a painter success means professionalism. You must have confident that your artworks are perfect. You need to work hard, look for your own way in art. So, the quality and money are an ideal criteria for artists. Money allows to study and travel.


What advice can you give to young painters?

My advice for beginning artists is to be brave. Many young people believe that they are worse than other people. It prevents them from developing. Forget about it. Life is short, and you have no right to give away your opportunities. Master different techniques as many as possible, make experiments, communicate with talented artists, travel, study to work with colors, watch the quality, gain experience, study how to express emotions and feelings. Just do it!

Photo: Oleksandr Serbinov

Filming & editing: Vlad Pustovit​

Location: Sascha Labuda’s Studio

Translation: Global Translation Services 1+1

Production: MilliON

Recommend reading

Анна Добриднєва: «Спокушай і володарюй»

В самом расцвете: причудливые драгоценности, вдохновленные природой

Net-a-Porter та Jimmy Choo зробили колекцію для червоної доріжки