Alua Tebenova – The Painter who Introduces the Kazakh Culture to the Romanians

“If I were to become a colour, I would like to be orange.”

With her headphones on, surrounded by jars with coloured water, paint brushes and gouaches, Alua was working on her next painting in one of the studios of the Art and Design University of Cluj-Napoca

“My paintings are the means in which I tell the world who I am, what I think and what I feel. Since I arrived in Romania, I started to miss home. You can see this in my works. Gold Soul, The Bride and Keeper of the Steps depict the Kazakh people, customs and values.”


Alua comes from a long line of doctors, it is a bit of a family tradition to do the med school thing. However, she decided to take a slightly different path.

“When I finished high school, my parents encouraged me to go to the faculty of arts in Karaganda. At one of the festivals organized there, I saw the performance of the Dorule Ensemble of the Romanian Cultural Society Dacia. I loved their energy so much that immediately after the festival I asked them if I can be part of the team. This is how I became familiar with the Romanian culture and even visited some of the Romanian cities during the summer breaks.”


When deciding upon where in the world she should do her Master’s degree, it didn’t take Alua much time to choose Romania, namely Cluj-Napoca. The city conquered her heart with its beautiful parks, vibrant night life and young vibes.

“Here in Cluj I have a lot of friends both Romanian and Kazakh. Every now and then we all get together in the dormitory to cook traditional Kazakh food and listen to dombra music. In my free time I also love to do henna tattoos and paint portraits.”


Alua has a very close connection with the tools she’s using to create her paintings. She has not bought new paint brushes since high school. To her, the tools she’s using have a soul and each of them has a story to tell if you learn to listen carefully.

“What truly inspires me is the work of other artists. From the Kazakh painters, I really love the art of Burdisbekov, Kalmahanov and Begalin. While from the international artists, Voka is the one whose spontaneous realism strikingly captures my attention.”


Alua has a blurry vision about her future. She wants to do a doctoral degree in arts but she’s not sure whether she will stay in Romania or go further west.

“I would love to teach art to children, because I believe in the importance of art in our lives. Through art, mainly through paintings, we tell the world about our inner life. And, to be honest, without art, life would be boring.”

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This post is also available in: Romanian

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