Born in 1974 in Boyarka, Ukraine. Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.
This Belgian artist of Ukrainian origin grew up in an environment permeated by Soviet propaganda. Babenko is captivated by the Russian realistic classical painting school, as well as the forbidden rock scene of the 80s. At the age of fourteen, he flees his parental house in Ukraine and goes to St Petersburg, where things get out of hand. He finds a safe haven in Belgium through political asylum and with a view to job security, he enrols for a degree in graphic design, which allows him to indulge in the design of high-profile posters for Flanders Opera.Yet, Babenko cannot deny his true passion and – coming from street art and performance art – throws himself heart and soul into painting, which he has been doing ever since.
Babenko's works are maximalist and neo-expressionist. The dualism and mysticism of Russian female poet Hippius at the time of the Russian revolution, and of Bulgakov, are recurring themes in his art. He depicts today's society where those themes are still at play, with all its contrasts, struggles and hypocrisy. The paintings are explosions of colour and drama, made with oil and spray paint on canvas. Recurring elements are the contrasts between different societies (USSR, eastern Europe, western Europe) and his different personalities (from punker in a Soviet prison cell to good father of two children).
His paintings are a whirlwind of figures and characters, some good and some controversial, reflecting life in general, as well as the internal demons he is facing. Especially in times of the coronacrisis, fears and worries have become very actual. It is interesting for an artist - whose natural state is one of isolation - to observe people's behaviour when general isolation is imposed; it is a good breeding ground for artistic research. Another link between Babenko's art and the coronacrisis is the power of nature - in his paintings, and in the form of its swift recovery and return to the cities in the absence of human activity. It is testimony to the pollution brought about by man, even at small scale. At the same time, it is encouraging to see nature's power for recovery - it is a ray of light in this crisis, much like the light that is present in Babenko's works.
2008 Erasmus, Master in Visual Arts University of the West of Engeland, Bristol, UK
2004 - 2008 Master in Visual Arts, Karel de Grote Hogeschool, Antwerp, Belgium
2002 - 2008 Painting & Drawing, Royal Academy for Fine Arts, Antwerp,Belgium