A dear friend from Moscow sent Christmas greetings with a beautiful contemporary icon. She then added an explanation about the iconographer.

christmas_cherkasova

Elena Cherkasova is one of the most unusual and impressive contemporary Russian artists, whose paintings sometimes are called a visual parable about Paradise.

She was born in Moscow in 1959. Her father was a well-known scholar, her mother taught foreign languages, her grandfather suffered repression during the Stalin era and was sent to a labor camp for many years.

After graduating from the School of Arts, Elena joined the non-conformist underground artistic movement. She tried her hand with experimental art and lead a bohemian life style. When she was 21 years old, she found her Christian faith, came to the Russian Orthodox Church, and immediately after that radically changed her life. She dropped her art and threw out her canvases and palettes, considering this activity inappropriate and even sinful for a person looking for salvation. She helped in the parish church, embroidering vestments, learned icon painting and decided to be an iconographer. However, in 1996, after 15 years of rejection of secular art, she went back to it.

Her first picture after the long break was “The Youth of David”. Little by little she tried to elaborate her unique artistic language, influenced by the portraits from ancient Fayoum in Egypt, Russian and European primitive art, Coptic and Ethiopian iconography, Byzantine art, medieval inscriptions and inspired by her own attentive reading of the Scripture and very personal, thankful view of the creation. Whatever she would paint – people, feasts, flowers, cats and other animals – it is the Word of God that is at the heart of her bright world.

She has said that her paintings are always coming from love: “I’m painting just to bring dear things and persons closer to myself. For instance I met King David, reading the Psalms, later I have read the Books of Samuel and Kings, and then start to paint him. I just wanted to tell the king about my love. In this same way all the other paintings appear”.

One of the art critics called her paintings “a medicine for those in despair”. It is true. All her works, however different in manner, material and color that they might be, bring one and joyful message: “Do not be afraid. The kingdom is among us”

See more of her icons here