LONDON, UK.- St. Paul's Cathedral opened a display of four installations by the Russian artist Sergei Chepik. The four panels by the Russian artist depict scenes from The Nativity, The Public Ministry, The Crucifixion and The Resurrection, they will be in displayed in the Cathedral on a temporary basis until early 2007. This is part of an ongoing programme by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's to display contemporary art in the Cathedral.
Measuring over 7m high from top to bottom, the panels have been painted by Sergei Chepik to fit the vacant spaces on the pillars. They show scenes from The Nativity, The Public Ministry, the Crucifixion and The Resurrection, and will be in displayed in the Cathedral until early 2007.
Chepik's religious works, which show the loneliness and suffering of Christ, draw on his personal experiences of how it felt to stand against Communism in his native Russia.
Born (1953) in Kiev into a family of artists, Chepik was a precocious talent and spent his formative years mastering every style and genre. He studied in Leningrad and soon fell out of favour with the art establishment for refusing to tow the party line and paint propaganda - Soviet Realism. He became an outcast and joined the margins of society, painting the tragedy of post-Stalin Russia: the destitute in doorways, the drugged in psychiatric hospitals, the hopeless heap of humanity washed up in public baths.
Forced to flee Leningrad in 1988, he escaped to France with the help of Marie-Aude Albert, who was to become his wife. Here he found a new focus for his art: the Life of Christ and began a series of Golgotha paintings, taking the unusual perspective of Christ's view from the Cross. Speaking of this new direction in his work, Chepik said: "I have always thought that any self-respecting, sincere artist must sooner or later encounter the great and eternal themes of art. Thus confronting the great artists of the past and being challenged by them is a stimulating experience."
One of Chepik's Golgotha paintings was displayed in St Paul's in 2003. The way Golgotha spoke to a large number of visitors was instrumental in persuading the Dean and Chapter to hang the new paintings in the Cathedral. Inspired by Christ's words: "I have come into the world as light, so that no one who has faith in me should remain in darkness" (John, 12:46), Chepik unites these new panels with a dramatic light from the newly cleaned interior of the Cathedral, which directs the viewer's gaze and highlights the key aspects of the narrative.
The Dean of St Paul's, the Very Revd Dr John Moses, comments 'The Christ who confronts us in the gospels is a prophetic figure. He is uncomfortably compelling. He speaks of the breaking in of God's Kingdom and challenges the bland complacencies of all who will listen. It seems to me that Sergei Chepik has captured in a stark and powerful fashion the Christ whom I find in the Gospels; and it may be that in our tormented world it is exactly this presentation of the Person of Our Lord which is able to speak to hearts and minds.'