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Interview Alina Babenko & Iris Kienzl

Interview with Alina Babenko
30.11.2022

Iris from Arthentico:
"Hello Alina, I#m incredibly pleased that we can do this interview today. We re sitting in front of your latest painting "Way" in the premises of your first solo exhibition in Vienna, which is also the first solo exhibition for Arthentico. You have given this exhibition the title "Inner Dialogue". Can you explain to me how it came to this title and exhibition concept?"


Alina Babenko:

"Hello Iris. I m also very pleased.
The title "Inner Dialogue" somehow came out of my gut, because painting for me means a deep immersion into myself. In this way, I can express what moves me internally at the moment. Something that no one has ever seen or heard of me before. I want to tell my story with my paintings and make it tangible for others. Especially in difficult times, such as during the first Corona Lockdowns - and especially now, during the war in my country of origin, Ukraine. That's where painting helps me to better process these difficult situations and this sudden leaving behind of my old life."

Iris from Arthentico:

"I see. Then painting is so to say like a kind of therapy for you, is that right?"

Alina Babenko:

"Yes, you could look at it that way."

Iris von Arthentico:

"As I mentioned before, the painting "Way" we are sitting in front of right now is your latest painting. It was, after all, finished just before the opening of this exhibition. Can you tell me a bit more about it?"

Alina Babenko:

"The painting "Way" shows my personal path that I walked until before the opening of this exhibition. For me, this path represents the overcoming I have when I want to reach new goals. And of course also the difficulties that arise in the process. But most of the time it is worthwhile to take exactly the path you have in mind, because then you also manage to overcome these obstacles. You simply have to believe in yourself, be honest with yourself and, of course, take responsibility. The support of others is also particularly important here. That you know that others believe in you and give you strength inside to create something new. That's exactly what this painting expresses for me."

Iris from Arthentico:

"Those were beautiful and motivating words, which are somehow also well reflected in this painting. Thank you for the explanation.
Because the painting is so new, the oil paint is still drying. That's why I wanted to ask you in general - do you always paint so spontaneously and quickly? How does the painting process work for you?"

Alina Babenko:

"I always work from the moment. When I feel like it, I paint. At home I always have enough empty canvases and oil paint. When I feel this feeling inside me and have time, I paint immediately."

Iris from Arthentico:

"Exciting. Even at our first group show, where two of your paintings were also exhibited, one of them, the "Phoenix" painting, was still very fresh and has dried. I think it is brave that you then exhibit these paintings anyway and are not afraid that the visitors will get at them. " [laughter]

Alina Babenko:

"I just want to show the paintings then. I don#t really care about the drying. The visitors are usually always very careful."

Iris from Arthentico:

"I see. You also often paint in the middle of the night until the next morning, don#t you?"
Alina Babenko:
[Laughter] "Yes, that's right. During the day I usually don#t have time to paint, because I m working as an architect. So yes - during the day I am an architect, at night I am an artist."

Iris from Arthentico:

"I think that s cool. And that s certainly a good balance to work.
Did you always want to become an artist? Or did your profession as an architect lead you to start painting a few years ago?"

Alina Babenko:

"Well I graduated from an academic art school in Ukraine and have actually always painted a lot since I was a child, but still I went down the path of architectural education. I somehow think that painting at that time made me become an architect and not the other way around. It wasn't until 2016 that I started painting more again, alongside architecture. Then on canvas and with oil paint. Before that - during my architecture studies - I also painted, but only with watercolour. I also did graphic design. But it was all exactly the same as in the academic art school. In 2018 it came to that then my first oil painting in my special technique was created."

Iris from Arthentico:

"That was then the painting "Who I am" anyway, which can also be seen here in our exhibition, right?"

Alina Babenko:

"Absolutely right."

Iris from Arthentico:

"An insanely expressive painting. You were still working very figuratively in this and other older paintings, but have since become more and more abstract. How did that come about?"

Alina Babenko:

"Yes. It always depends on the period of my life. So what I'm going through, what steps I'm taking. Sometimes it is more figurative, sometimes more abstract. And of course, my mood and my inner feelings always play an important role at the exact moment when the painting is created. For example, the painting  "Way" became very abstract, because that describes my inner self best. Now it s finished and I have come to terms with this feeling. But only now do I have time to let it affect me myself and think it over."

Iris from Arthentico:

"Interesting. For me, this painting really radiates an insane amount of energy and I m particularly fond of the texture of the paint, which is also shown off so well by the lighting. It#s really great.
Something I also really want to ask you - you use the colours red and yellow a lot. I really see those two colours in every single one of your paintings that are on display here right now. Do these colours have a special meaning for you?"

Alina Babenko:

"I#ll start with the fact that I often paint when I#m feeling bad or just feel too many emotions inside. And yes, red and yellow have a special meaning for me. Also white. These three colours somehow give me positive energy. With them I can turn my negative feelings into something positive. But I don't only use these colours when I'm feeling bad. Even when I m feeling particularly well, I d like to put my good mood on canvas with these colours."

Iris from Arthentico:

"I find it very exciting that your emotions have such a big influence on your choice of colours. And I don#t even notice when I first look at your paintings that you might have painted them out of a negative feeling. They really radiate a lot of positivity. But when you then often read the texts next to the paintings, it becomes clear that you have processed a rather negative feeling in the painting. But I find it really exciting that your paintings don#t show that at first glance. And I think that s also what visitors appreciate so much about your art."

Alina Babenko:

"Yes, that can be." [Smile.]

Iris from Arthentico:

"Have you already set yourself artistic goals for the next few years?"

Alina Babenko:

"Yes, of course. For one thing, I would really like to organise more exhibitions with my paintings. Not only in Austria, but also in other countries and cities. I would like to take new steps, develop myself in the process of course, gain new experiences, develop my artistic style and simply immerse myself more deeply in art and in myself. With more paintings, I want to show people new sides of me. I can say with certainty that it will be something completely different that I will tackle next. Something more powerful. Anyway, I'm very excited about what I'm going to create." [Laughter.]

Iris from Arthentico:

"We are too, of course! We are very excited about it. And now my last question: Today is the last day of this exhibition. How do you look back on it?"

Alina Babenko:

"This exhibition was like a life test for me. [Laughter] It means for me an end of a small part of my life. The exhibition is over and new doors are opening, there are new challenges. But I am not afraid of that. But what I can definitely say is that I feel a bit different after this exhibition. Something positive has happened inside me, but I can't describe or express it well at the moment. But it will probably have an impact on my new paintings. We#ll see about that then." [Laughter.]

Iris from Arthentico:

"For sure! In any case, we at Arthentico are insanely excited to see how you will develop further and which paintings will still be created with you."
Thank you very much for the nice conversation, Alina!"

Alina Babenko:

"Thank you very much, too!"
Interview