Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.


Gabo, Lilia

Lilia Waardenburg-Gabo

I was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union in 1937. My city has now been given back its original name, Saint Petersburg, and my country its original name, Russia. My father was a topographer by profession and my mother a geologist. Al long as I can remember I made drawings as a child – at home, at school, during normal classes (much to the frustration of our school mistresses) and in the period of my training as an architect (nobody objected to that).
From 1954 till the end of 1960 I studied architecture at the Architecture University in Leningrad. During my training as an architect various creative classes were included, like pencil drawing, watercolour, graphite on paper and stone, oil painting, pastel and gouache. In my free time I was always occupied with drawing and painting. During my life in Russia I visited many beautiful and magnificent cities, villages and landscapes, like the Golden Ring around Moscow, the isle of Kizi in the Onega Lake, the Solovki islands in the White Lake, the Caucasus and the Ural, the island of Sakhalin, Murmansk in the North, etc. At all of these interesting sites I made drawings and painted. At home I often painted still lifes, portraits and bouquets.
Since 1993 I live and work in the Netherlands. Besides my work as an architect at my husband’s architect firm I try to paint as much as possible in my free time. I am glad that my profession also gives me much opportunity to do creative work. I make portraits, landscapes, still lifes, flowers and on our journeys I often make pencil sketches in colour and black and white. Where others make photos I stick to sketches. I find this enormously interesting and very important as a way of preserving memories.
I am a Christian and belong to the Russian-Orthodox church. This church is not so big in the Netherlands, but nevertheless a first Russian-Orthodox church has been built here. The church is in the center of Rotterdam and I am the architect.
My work
My inspiration usually comes from looking at buildings, churches, streets, landscapes, flowers and light, or a combination of these. My work is probably determined significantly by my training and experience as an architect, of maybe the other way around: I became an architect because …? To me it is clear that I cannot live without drawing and painting. I use the following techniques: watercolour, pencil, colour pencil, gouache, pastel, acrylics, ink and sometimes oil.
My motivation
I cannot say that I have a favourite type of art: my motivation comes from all forms of culture, sometimes old Egyptian murals, sometimes Art Deco, Japanese drawings on silk or Russian folk art. And of course, consciously or sub-consciously, I am searching for my own style, my own ‘place-under-the-sun’. In fact all of my sketches or paintings are attempts to show to other people: ‘Look, how beautiful it is (was)!’ In which measure I have succeeded, is up to others…
1. Silhouette of Hattem with flowers. Watercolour on paper, 40x50 cm. The beautiful little town of Hattem is a continuous source of inspiration to me. It is always beautiful – in the spring, in the summer, in the rain and in the snow (regretfully not too often in Holland!). This painting was made in autumn, with cheerful and subtle flowers on the foreground.
2. Cluny Abbey, France. Watercolour on paper, 60x40 cm. On a journey through France we camped in the proximity of Cluny. We were moved by the majesty of the immense abbey that stood there in the past. Nowadays the magnificent tower is one of the witnesses to the previous grandeur of the abbey.
3. Sunny day in France. Acrylics on carton 50x75 cm. Again in France, very early in the morning. On the way home we stopped for a break in a hilly area: so quiet and beautiful. I made several sketches in colour there that I later converted to a painting in my studio. 
I have had exhibitions in Epe, Hattem and Zwolle. Several of my works belong to private collections in among others Russia (primarily Saint Petersburg and Moscow), Israel, The United States, Germany and Curacao.