Vitebsk, Belarus, September 19, 2017
Very unusual frescoes have appeared in the Catholic Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Vitebsk, Belarus. The angels are playing various modern instruments, and Biblical characters are depicted together with soldiers in camouflage and men in business suits. The depiction of the Adoration of the Magi has drawn the most attention, with people very similar to Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, as well as the Dalai Lama offering gifts to the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, reports EuroRadio.fm.
According to the artist Vladimir Kondrusevich, the idea to make classical Biblical stories more modern was born thanks to the look of the church building itself. It is a reconstructed house of culture, therefore classical frescoes would have looked absurd, in his opinion. The artist decided which characters and details to add together with Fr. Vyacheslav Bork.
“For me, the main leitmotif in art and religion is how much they manage the reality that is constantly changing. It’s not some fairytale that happened 2,000 years ago. It’s what’s happening right now. We have called this fresco ‘The Adoration of the Magi and the Poor’—that is, the powerful of this world and those on the lowest social level. Then there is a large field for interpretation,” Kondrusevich explained, adding that the three magi are often depicted as members of different races, “therefore, these characters are very well-suited.”
The Resurrection fresco features angels playing a violin, a bass guitar, a saxophone, bongos, and bagpipes while business men flee from the sight of the resurrected Christ, and military men sleep by the empty tomb.
Kondrusevich has already painted seven churches, doing individual frescoes in many of them, for example, just above the altar. However, adding modern details, he says, depends on the building and the priest and is not always appropriate. The parish of St. Anthony of Padua is quite pleased with the artist’s work.
“If we look at the painting in the middle which shows both worship from the poor and the needy on one side, and the rich and powerful standing firmly on their feet on the other, there’s no need to look for any political subtext. The viewer will only see the truth that sooner or later all will come to worship Christ, both the rich and the poor, because Christ is the Lord for every person,” Kondrusevich stated, according to RT.