The People’s Artist of Ukraine Vasyl Gabda is, according to experts, in the top ten artists of the Transcarpathian school of painting, he can be called a classic, and also an unequaled colorist. His teachers were known founders of the Transcarpathian school of painting Adalbert Erdelyi, Yosyp Bokshay and Fedir Manaylo. He passed away about ten years ago, but still lives in the hearts of those who knew him.
We have visited the studio of Vasyl Gabda, which is now owned by his son, to talk in a relaxed atmosphere with Vladislav Gabda for whom the father was a friend and a mentor.
Vladislav Gabda told that recently the crew of the "Tisa-1" channel had made the program about his father. Family members shared their memories and feelings about him. Together they tried to recreate the atmosphere that used to be there during the life of the painter. Vladislav Gabda said that this movie is like a little theatrical plot, which is very similar to the art of his father."The more I live without him, the harder it feels. So, time does not always cure" – Vladislav Gabda says. Recently filmed family conversation about Vasyl Gabda successfully reproduces the feelings that the family had a long time been keeping in confidence.
Vladislav Gabda always, in spite of his independence, follows the father’s guidance that he received was when he was very young, "You should not turn your art into a routine.You have to play with your art and try to get maximum satisfaction from work. My father was my first teacher. When he worked as an artist-designer, I used to sit beside him for hours and draw something" – the son says.
Vasyl Gabda loved contemporary art and left for his son a home library with valuable books, reading which he learned to perceive and to see art differently. Many of them are not sold in bookstores anymore. "He was constantly reading. He said that an artist, who graduated from high school or institute, must always be engaged in self-education. By the way, he had very self-critical attitude toward his own art. He was never completely satisfied with himself. He set the bar pretty high for himself, becuse some people focused only on Erdelyi, Kotstsi and Bokshay, but there is a world of art ouside of them! Somewhere it is imprinted in me."
Vasyl Gabda was thoroughly educated man. He loved classical music, and taught his son to love it. Vladislav Gabda remembers that his father and himself became colleagues when he was already in his 30s, because their visions in the work began to diverge.
We visited the studio where the shooting took place, and Vasyl Gabda used to work it seems just recently. This is where the master’s children were born. In the studio, the son always feels the spirit of the father’s mysterious holiness. This spirit also prevails in the house where they live now.
Daughter Olena Zymokosova told what her father taught her to love nature and see the world differently.
Relatives also recall that he was very terse, but they understood him without words. His always organized creative work to leave some time for the family.
In an interview, Mrs. Halyna, the wife of the painter, says that even when they met he was behaving as an artist. He remembered the color of her dress. Their passionate love began in 1949 and went on throughout the whole life.
Art critic Halyna Ryzhova aptly emphasized that landscapes of the master are a confession of love to his native and dear Transcarpathia. "To paint like Vasyl Gabda one must be a lyricist at heart. And he, despite non-lirycal appearance, indeed was such."
The master had his own places where he used to come alone, or only with his family. Vladislav Gabda told that his father would often go to the open air. And then very young son thought it was his duty to go with him."Preparing for these trips, I acquired some "technology skills": together we put canvas on stretchers, coated them with primer. At first, mum would also go with us to the open air. And as I grew up, then I helped my father by myself. While he was looking for a theme, I laid out a sketchbook. By the way, he considered painting a very intimate experience. Although he would go to the open air with the company, he loved to work in silence" – Vladislav Gabda says.
We visited the garden, where the artist loved to spend a lot of time. Among the trees planted by the master we felt the atmosphere of peace that Vasyl Gabda loved so much…