Vladimir Grygorenko

Location: Keller, TX
Website: orthodox-icon.com

Describe your featured work:

Murals in the Altar of Saint Gregory Palamas monastery near Perrysville, Ohio.

The major goal and challenge for this project was to create a theological concept and express it artistically in such a way that it would surround and interact with the congregation. The viewers are also constantly moving and should be able to observe the murals from different points without much distortion.

Christ Enthroned is placed at the concha of the apse and surrounded by Mother of God and St. John the Baptist. Together with the priest, they are leading the congregation in prayer to Christ. The inscription states: “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool for He is Holy” (Psalm 99:5). The throne of Christ is covered with a white liturgical cloth, which is repeated in the surrounding composition of the Communion of the Apostles, as an altar table cover. That detail should remind us that Christ himself is “offering and being offered” in Communion. Images of holy Bishops are placed on the walls surrounding the altar table, symbolically concelebrating with the officiating priest. The barrel vault joining the altar is devoted to the concept of the Divine Light with the image of Transfiguration. Christ in white garments is standing upon the mountain with Moses and Elijah. He is placed in the center of a bright white circle, symbolizing Glory, with nine beams of light emanating from it and illuminating the Apostles below.

Altar and the Vault. St. Gregory Monastery, 2020, KEIM Silicate paints over lime plaster, 850 sq. ft.
Mother of God with Christ-Child Timpani, over iconostasis
Transfiguration, Barrel vault over iconostasis, KEIM Silicate paints.

Artist’s Statement:

For almost thirty years, I have served the Church as an iconographer. Orthodox Christians believe the icon is the revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven in our material world. The icon reveals the ultimate truth about God and man. To portray the Truth about a subject is the goal of all real art. There is a connection and difference between painting and iconography. A good painter seeks the truth about the created world; an iconographer shows the truth about the Creator. Iconography is the art of arts, and an icon is more a work of art than of craftsmanship. At the same time, we cannot reduce an icon to the level of artifact only – an icon is much more. Only in prayer can an icon fulfill its purpose. Which is why an iconographer must be personally involved in church life.

Christ, detail

What are you making now?

At this time, I continue my work for the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery in Perrysville, Ohio and am conceptualizing a design for the cupola in the monastery chapel. The main idea for that area should be the representation of God as the creator of the universe and Christ as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

Monastery settings offer the artist a unique opportunity not only to observe and reflect the unceasing prayer of the monks but also to receive instant feedback from people who are genuinely involved in the perception of the art. Every success or mistake will be revealed immediately as it helps or interferes with their prayer.

I belong to CIVA because…

I believe that CIVA offers an excellent opportunity for Christian artists with a different approach to art to exchange ideas and learn new concepts, which would be difficult for us to find in different settings.

Vladimir Grygorenko was introduced to Christian art thirty years ago in Ukraine when, as a result of his studies of artistic composition, he copied a few ancient icons and brought them to the Church for a review. At that time, he was neither Christian, nor believer – it was church art that brought him to Christ and his Church. After a short career in Engineering, he accepted Art as his calling and has since decorated many churches with panel icons and large wall murals across the USA and Europe.