Alexander (Oleksandr) Gubarev Biography

Alexander (Oleksandr) Gubarev



Alexander (Oleksandr) Gubarev, painter, printmaker, and illustrator was born in the village of Vorontsovka, Ukraine, on September 1, 1926. Though he showed an interest in painting and drawing from an early age, there was no formal academic training available to the Gubarev family whose children, like all children of Vorontskova, were destined to work at the metallurgical plant that employed their father, Ivan.

At age eight, however, young Gubarev lost his left hand in a pyroxylin cartridge explosion. It proved to be a fortuitous accident, however, as his family decided to find formal art training for the young artist, since there would be no other form of work he could obtain. He was introduced to artist Ivan Horbonosov, a graduate of Odessa Art School. Horbonosov mentored Gubarev in basic art techniques for two years. Following this, he was sent to the Palace of Young Pioneers, a USSR program stationed in every region to educate young Socialists in government-sanctioned arts and other studies, in Dnipropetrovsk.

In 1941 Gubarev's studies were interrupted with the invasion of the USSR by Nazi Germany. A new life began for the young artist, as his family and their district became a part of Nazi occupied territory. For two years the students of the young Pioneers were allowed to continue their studies under strict observation by the new governing body, but in 1943 the war took a violent turn in the Ukraine as the Red Army descended. That September, the residents of the left bank were exiled by the Nazis across the river toward Kryvyi Rih, to eventually be shipped to Germany; their villages were then burned to the ground by the soldiers. Gubarev and his mother, separated from the rest of the family, managed to hide in the German occupied village of Ternivka, where they remained until January of 1944 when the Red Army began liberating much of the Ukraine. When they returned to their village they found only their shed still standing; this became their home for several years. Gubarev took up work as a sign painter and graphic artist where available, usually in the employ of the military. They were eventually reunited with Gubarev's father and one of his brothers; the other was imprisoned for offenses against the Ukrainian government and he died serving his sentence in 1948.

The Pioneer school reopened in 1944, and upon passing his examinations, Gubarev joined the college, now situated on the bottom floor of the partially bombed-out art museum. He graduated with honors in 1949, and immediately joined the Kiev State Art Institute's graphic art faculty. His graduate work consisted of a series of lithographs honoring Dnipro, its folk art and culture. Soon thereafter, he was sent to work at the art department of the magazine "Ukraine". Thus began an extensive career in graphic arts and illustration, with a focus on printmaking and watercolors. His work became emblematic of the Ukraine and Gubarev was soon considered a "People's Artist" by the Ukrainian government, receiving numerous honors.

Gubarev exhibited extensively throughout his homeland and abroad. A list of his exhibitions notes at least one for every year from 1955 to 2016. A complete list can be found on his website at