Kazakh Painter in Romania Teaches Culture, Traditions and Customs

ASTANA – Not many people are lucky enough to find their calling on time and love and succeed in what they do best while also being far from their home country. Painter and a master student Alua Tebenova is one such creative individual, building her artistic career in Romania.

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“My connection with fine arts began when I was starting school. Once my father picked me up from school, while handing me a big A3 folder full of painting materials he said, ‘My daughter, your mother and I made a decision to get you into a school of painting and we are heading to your first lesson right now!’ I was pleasantly surprised and excited about it!” she said.

Tebenova graduated with honours after five years of study at a regional painting school.

“I began worrying about what profession to choose, who to become and what to do in the future as the moment to select a specialty approached during senior school,” she recalled.

Tebenova comes from a family of health professionals and lecturers and no one was an arts university graduate. She thought of choosing to become a doctor like her parents, but with a bachelor’s degree from the professional arts faculty of Karaganda State University in her hand, she realised she wanted to continue her creative path.

“Without ruminating for long, I decided to go on with what my heart desired, producing pictures, being a creator and getting to know the art world,” she said.

She is now a master student of pictură (painting) at Universitatea de Artă și Design din Cluj-Napoca (Art and Design University of Cluj-Napoca) in Romania, one of Eastern Europe’s leading universities in the fine arts.

“My schedule allows me to do what I wish to, producing paintings and compositions which I consider ‘must be here and now,’” she noted.

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“The Keeper of the Steppe”

She recently produced four paintings with an ethnical theme. In these works, the painter stresses her attempt to impersonate her affection for Kazakh culture, descendants of nomads and traditions.

The titles of her paintings centre around the content of the works such as “The Keeper of the Steppe,” “Golden Soul” and “The Bride.”

“I place great value on special aspects of a composition, details of traditional Kazakh clothing and colouring,” said Tebenova.

Her paintings also play an educational role for students, lecturers and others because they get to know about Kazakh culture, traditions and customs through her drawings.  

“I deepened into an ethnic theme just a little while ago when I was doing my thesis work at Karaganda State University. I embodied my idea of integrating music, colours and reflections together,” she said.

She noted the goal was to make her works in sync with one another and create a musical melody on canvas.

“Having learned in detail about Kazakh [musical] instruments both in theory and practice and discovering how rich, valuable and historically unique our culture is, I carry on and I think I will continue ‘searching for treasure’ in Kazakh and nomad culture through paintings, telling to ours and a future generation about things they did not come to know yet,” said Tebenova.

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She also paints portraits of people who inspire her as creative individuals in film, music, arts, theatre and other fields, which has become a way to earn money. Many people show interest in Tebenova’s techniques and are glad to have a portrait in a certain style and genre. The young artist added she feels happy to realise her customer’s ideas.

Tebenova finds oil and acrylic as congenial work materials, as they can convey the richness of colours and shades and realise ideas and conceptions.

The painter does not support contemporary arts and believes a painting should speak for itself.

“Understand everything an artist thought and experienced in a single look at a painting and catch the subtlety of an author’s idea and conception,” she added.

Romanian and European students find her paintings unusual and offbeat.

“They are not used to seeing such art and the reaction is ambiguous, but this doesn’t stop me. I respect everyone’s opinion, because every person has their own vision of what a work should look like,” she said.

Tebenova finds inspiration in paintings of artists from different centuries and genres like classic Rembrandt, Austrian contemporary artist Voka and Scotsman Scott Nainsmith. Bakhytnur Burdisbekov, Madikhan Kalmakhanov and Nurlan Kilibayev are among many Kazakh artists whose works she respects.

Music is an essential part of her work process and an additional source of inspiration. The tunes can be traditional Kazakh compositions or instrumental music depending on her mood and the theme of a painting.

She added she likes to travel and discover new places which impact her artistic views.

During her study years, she managed to participate in exhibitions of young painters from Karaganda and show herself in competitions of different kinds of art.

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“I plan to implement something from myself in exhibitions and vernissages in Romania and Europe. I have many ideas and plans; I will be moving towards my goal bit by bit and perfect my art. I will be creating, developing and presenting a good quality product while my hand is able to pass across the canvas and sort paints,” said Tebenova.