"I go into nature, watching, looking for my spot. The right place for me has to be irregular.... Nature is as changeable as a woman, it has to be felt and seen to be understood." That is how Bondarenko, an artist who loves to paint landscapes and floral still lifes, describes his choice to work in the open air. In childhood he was seriously ill and could not walk without a back brace. At school he was teased by his classmates, but his illness taught the impressionable boy "to watch and learn how nature changes, struggles and survives," and he became interested in painting. When he was 17, he left his native town of Druzhkovka in the Donetsk region to study at the Grekov Art School in Rostov-on-Don. After graduating, he taught at the fine arts school in Taganrog. However, his life was not easy there: he was poor, had to stay with other people or in dormitories, and he worked in squalid workshops in abandoned churches, or in the basements of dilapidated buildings. A dissatisfaction with himself and a thirst for travel made the restless artist move from place to place. He worked as the director of an art school for a while, then in Ussuriysk, in the far east, as a theatre decorator, and then he suddenly relocated again, to finally find a home in the Vladimir region, to learn and absorb the traditions of the local art school.