On this occasion exhibitions of the artist’s works were already held in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr, Chernivtsi, and Parkhomivtsi in Kharkiv region. In every place where the master presents his works they are approved by experts and draw the attention of art admirers.
Volodymyr Dziubenko was born in the town of Chervonoarmiisk (had a name of Pulyny until 1935) in Zhytomyr region. Since his childhood he was surrounded by picturesque nature of Polissia: wheat fields, blooming flax, alder grove, pear tree in the garden cracked from heat, thick velvet forests, touching chickens, and mallow by parental home. Dziubenko has kept love for his native land through his life and an image of mother, nature, and parental home became the main characters of his artistic work.
Childhood of the future artist was far from being careless, bright, and joyful. Parents who did not recognize the Soviet power even after World War II and refused to join into collective farm were sent to Siberia together with their little son Volodia. There was none to take care of the child out there because his mother worked hard in golden mines. Living conditions were terrible and he caught a bad cold. We do not know how it all would have ended as the family did not have access to even the simplest medical treatment if it was not for their family in Zhytomyr. Those people overcame many obstacles and took the boy to live with them. The kid spent nearly three years in the bone-tuberculosis sanatorium. For long months the living space of the little boy was limited to a small hospital ward. Who knows how staying in a completely closed space without normal communication could have affected Dziubenko’s mind if he didn’t start painting. He would do wonders with a pencil while staying in bed all day long. By doing so he created his own world of dreams and fantasies that reached far beyond the hospital limits.
Later he was lucky to meet people who helped him to believe in his own strength and supported his talent. One of those people is the art teacher at the Chervonoarmiisk Secondary School Isak Nibulsky, who was not a professional artist himself but loved painting and had a genuine pedagogical talent. After finishing high school Dziubenko studied at Reshetylivka College of Carpet Making and Kharkiv Art College. By the way, Dziubenko’s diploma work Thoughts was distinguished as the best of that year and it is still preserved in College. After graduating from College, Dziubenko entered the Kharkiv Art and Industrial Institute. There he was also lucky to have good teachers like Borys Kosarev, Leonid Chernov, and Oleksandr Khmelnytsky.
Artistic work of Dziubenko – “extremely powerful artist and, at the same time, a person that is extremely shy and not boisterous in his work and his attitude to it” (Viktor Baranov) – is tightly bound, condensed, holistic; it does not break into a number of styles, trends, and stages. We can only distinguish perhaps two periods: his personal development in art (1975-88) and his artistic peak (from the late 1980s up until nowadays), which perfectly complement each other and enhance artistic development in progress. Dziubenko’s painting is unique, it is not like anything else, it does not have a slightest trace of imitation or remakes. And even though at different points art experts would see Henri Matisse style in his painting, or that of the impressionists Camille Pissarro and Paul Signac, or even Paul Cezanne, he remains the Ukrainian unique artist Dziubenko.
His painting is permeated with lyricism, philosophical contemplation, love for people of Polissia, and every corner of his native land. Interestingly, the artist did not paint the specific features and provided only generalized image of his characters: boys, mothers, gentle old ladies, and thanks to this technique in the space of his paintings anyone can imagine his own mother or grandmother, or even themselves as an image of a barefoot little boy.
The series devoted to the childhood memories – Golden Apples of Childhood; Stork, Stork, Sit on the Deck; Once in Childhood; Fall Sorrow; Lone Shepherd – deserve special attention. One of the paintings from this series pictures a little boy in pants with suspenders standing and dreamingly looking at a crane that is floating under the clouds. The artist creates a generalized image of children of post-war generation, who were left all to themselves without being properly brought up.
“In this period Dziubenko’s art is very solid and beautiful,” says Valentyn Hrytsanenko, professor, honored artist of Ukraine. “These paintings are the most touching, pure, and sincerely aching, imbued with deep nostalgia for childhood, warmth and openness.”
Depicting nature of Polissia praised by Lesia Ukrainka Dziubenko becomes a poet himself. The proof of that is not only the titles of his paintings: Oh, Green Rye; Dreams of a Summer Night; Mother Sowed Dreams; Mom, Look at August; Green Wonderland; Poppies Amid Silence, but also the spirit, dreaming nature, a touch of sorrow, self-absorbing feeling, and sadness imbued in his works. Coloristic palette of the artist emphasizes this poetic and romantic nature. Dziubenko is a brilliant colorist and one can feel that the artist consciously and deliberately attaches great importance to color and meticulously conjures on combinations of colors and shades. This, of course, is mainly green (because it is all about Polissia), all shades of greed: from the rich spring green to the steppe shade, greenish-orange, parched green (this is already Slobozhanshchyna). Sunflower yellow, bronze, golden ocher, saturated blue (Irises). Most of the shades are muted, pastel, slightly blurred the way impressionists used them. This pastel look gives Dziubenko’s paintings some special spirit, warmth, touching and anxious sorrow for youth, first love, young parents, and the flow of life.
One of the special features of the artist’s paintings is also their framed stories. In his early paintings the open space reaches to infinity, while in his later works he rather prefers closed space. Arch of dense trees, spacious trunks, delicate web of branches. By limiting the space Dziubenko as if focuses the attention of the audience on the main idea of the author.
“Every artist paints the world the way that would reflect his soul,” said Oleh Minko, Lviv artist, People’s Artist of Ukraine after visiting the exhibition of Dziubenko’s works at the Andrii Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv. “I can feel that Dziubenko is a warm hearted and decent person with delicate and sensitive soul. His paintings are just like that.”
Another important topic that can be significantly distinguished in the works of the artist from the mid-1990s is reconsideration of faith, religion, turning to God. His paintings Annunciation, Sermon, Walking on Water, On the Way to Jerusalem, Return of the Prodigal Son, and Evening Prayer do not copy any religious themes and do not claim to be a precise reproduction and obviously this is the reason why Olha Denysenko, art expert from Kharkiv calls this art works “translation of the Bible into the language of our village.”
In 2003 Dziubenko returned to his parents’ house in the town of Chervonoarmiisk in Zhytomyr region. After living for nearly 30 years in Kharkiv he still felt attracted to his native home. After the death of his mother he did not want to sell that small low house on the outskirts, which he often drew in his canvases. After moving to his native town Dziubenko continues to communicate with artists from all over Ukraine and especially with fellow countrymen artists. In late 2003 they together founded a Pulyny Community of Countrymen – today it includes almost 20 creative individuals born in Chervonoarmiisk. In 2005 the Community consisting of Volodymyr Dziubenko, Mykola Opanashchuk, Mykola Levandovsky, Mykola Benkovsky, Valerii and Mykola Hrybans, Valentyn Voitenko, Yevhenia Zabrodska, Leonid Fesenko, Yurii Suprunchuk, Valerii Skrytsky, and Tetiana Zolotarenko opened an art gallery “Pulynski Barvy.” In August of 2006 with the assistance of Dziubenko there took place another important event in the life of the town – Art Department of the Chervonoarmiisk Art School began its work. Now 25 talented children are studying there.
However, Dziubenko doesn’t stop at this. He has a dream of restoring traditions of ancient weaving craft in his homeland because he is not only a talented artist, but also a delicate master of weaving craft.