Saturday, 5 January 2019

Gubanov, Russian Doukhobor Artist Dies

Губанов Владимир Петрович (1951-2018)

Vladimir (‘Volodia’) Petrovich Gubanov will long be remembered as an talented Russian Doukhobor sculptor and artist. He died December 17, 2018 at his home in the town of Nebug, Tuapsinsky district, Krasnodar krai, on the Black Sea, 130 km. (80 mi.) north of Sochi. He was 67 years old.

Gubanov: in USSR c. 1970, Canada 1995, and Georgia 2014.

Canadian Doukhobors met him in 1995 during his 4-month expedition across Canada. He produced nearly 40 portrait sketches of Doukhobors, many of which were published in Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002).

In an August 1995 interview, Volodia said:
I believe the Doukhobor movement has a future. As a Doukhobor I believe that people must preserve planet earth. If people are quiet about wars, then there is no future for our civilization. (Spirit Wrestlers ..., page 223).
Vladimir was invited to Canada to commemorate the 1995 Centennial of the 1895 arms burning by Doukhobors in Russia. He came with sketches of Russian Doukhobors, several oil paintings, and a huge mural: "The Doukhobors' Destruction of Weapons", oil on canvas, 100 x 200 cm. The mural was promoted on this poster-calendar 'Spirit of '95'.

Click here to enlarge poster.

Vladimir Gubanov was born in the Doukhobor village of Orlovka (map by Johnathan Kalmakoff), Bogdanovskoy district, Georgian S.S.R. — near the site of the 1895 arms burning. His father herded cattle on the kolhoz (collective farm), but later in the 1970s left for Nalchik, in northern Caucasus. The Gubanovs resided across the entire former Soviet Union and Vladimir’s grandfather was exiled to a Koylma gulag labor camp in Siberia for 10 years because he owned 11 cows instead of the allotted one per family and was charged under Stalin with the crime of being a kulak.

In 1974 Vladimir left home to study art in Rostov-on-Don, Moscow and the Far East. In 1989 he completed studies at the Stroganov Moscow State Academy of Arts and Industry. He eventually landed a job at the large health-spa hotel resort "Molniya Yamal" in Nebug, where he continued to paint, do interior design and sculptures on commission.

He soon acquired a plot of land less than a kilometer uphill from the resort to build his own art studio and home. Slowly it became a modern three-story motel apartment designed in the shape of a ship (from above), with studio (muzei-masterskaya) and gallery (kartinnaya galereya) where he made and displayed his art. In 1993 he dedicated part of the gallery as a Doukhobor Cultural Centre to promote the world-wide Doukhobor movement, where he hoped to host international conferences. The Gallery was incorporated in 2006.

For the Doukhobors, Vladimir had planned a renaissance in the development of culture with a balance between individual and social needs. He said: ‘If we lose our culture and our social charter, we will lose our soul.’ In his studies, he discovered that the first Doukhobors were not vegetarians, they were not against dancing and song, and bowing to the ground was not essential. He urged Canadian Doukhobors to embrace the use of all the creative resources to attract youth to their social movement. Vladimir Gubanov was indeed a renaissance man with deep respect for culture and the future of humanity.

  1. ‘A Russian Artist’s Odyssey to Preserve the Future’. In Koozma J. Tarasoff, Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers’ Strategies for Living (2002), pages 223-225.
  2. Koozma J. Tarasoff. ‘The Events that Shook the World in 1895’. In Ahimsa Nonviolence, Vol. II, No 3, May-June 2006: 244-246.
  3. Tolstoy & Doukhobors — 42 image CD’. Spirit Wrestlers Blog, Sept. 8, 2011.
  4. Владимир Губанов (Vladimir Gubanov), Odnoklasniki, last updated 31 May 2014. — Similar to U.S.A. Facebook.
  5. International Doukhobor Meeting-Exhibit. Proposal to Build Bridges between East and West'. November 11, 2016.
  6. Koozma J. Tarasoff and Andrei Conovaloff. Images — paintings and drawings depicting the event (see image 6) in ‘Historic 1895 Burning of Guns: descriptions, selections and translations’. See image 6. Updated May 21, 2018.
  7. Leo Tolstoy and the Doukhobors: Conscientious Objection’. Gandhi Information Centre, 2019.
  8. Visual Arts and Nonkilling. A mural commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Arms Burning in Russia.’ #3 in Nonkilling Arts Research Committee Letter: Vol. 3, N. 1 (January - February 2019).


  1. He will be sadly missed as colleague and friend. Thanks for this summary, Koozma.

  2. It was a shock to hear of Vladimirs passing. We remember well when you & Vladimir visited us & he sketched me while we were having breakfast. Lately The Council of Doukhobors in Canada have been in communication with him with the possibility of having a Russian-Canadian Doukhobor reunion on his premises. He has not forgotten his Doukhobor Heritage.
    Alex & Julie Ewashen

  3. Svetlana Inikova, Moscow area of Russia7 January 2019 at 08:08

    Дорогой Кузьма,
    сообщение о смерти Володи Губанова ввергло меня в большую печаль. За последние полгода умерло много моих хороших знакомых и друзей, в том числе и духоборцы. С Володей мы тесно общались в 1990-е годы. Несмотря на развал в стране и очень тяжелые времена, он был полон планов на будущее. Они касались и духоборцев и его собственной жизни в искусстве. Есть такая поговорка: "Мы полагаем, а Бог располагает", т.е. мы строим планы, но претворятся они в жизнь или нет, - это зависит от Бога. Далеко не все его планы и мечты осуществились, хотя если бы он еще пожил, то, возможно, и осуществились бы. Но все равно он оставил след на земле и в наших сердцах.
    Светлана Иникова

    1. Translation:
      Dear Koozma,
      The message of the death of Volodya Gubanov plunged me into great sadness. Over the past six months, many of my good friends and friends have died, including Doukhobors. We closely communicated with Volodya in the 1990s. Despite the collapse of the country and very difficult times, he was full of plans for the future. They concerned both Doukhobors and his own life in art. There is a saying: 'We believe, and God disposes,' i.e. we make plans, but whether they are implemented or not, it depends on God. Not all of his plans and dreams came true, although if he had lived, it would have been possible. But still he left a mark on the earth and in our hearts.

  4. Read about our visit to Volodya's studio here:

    1. Larry Ewashen presents various writings, some published, and some not, which he calls 'Looking Back'. Therein he reveals in Part One a script he had written in 1996, 'Our Search For Tolstoy', in which he provides a working visit in 1996 to Yasnaya Polyana, the Estate Museum of Lev Tolstoy. In Part Two he presents a 'Glimpse of Petersburg Paradox -- 2001'. Part Three is called 'Catching up with Volodya Gubanov - Doukhobor Artist, November 2001.' Larry, together with his brothers Alex and Bob visited Vladimir Gubanov at this time. The reader will find these illustrated presentations informative and enjoyable.

  5. Gunter Schaarschmidt, Victoria, BC17 January 2019 at 18:40

    As you may know, I corresponded with Volodia Gubanov, concerning my planned visit to the museum, and he replied 'come any time'. So I join you in sending my condolences to his family. He was so young!