Why does this Muscovite artist make religious graffiti?

His creations appear in traditional places — on the walls of apartment blocks and under bridges, but they depict either Jesus or the Virgin Mary.

A huge graffiti face of Jesus Christ appeared in Moscow in late October. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. It was painted on a bridge bearing by 28-year-old Alexander Tsypkov.

The artist had to stand on a stepladder to complete the work, which reaches almost five meters high.

“The first such graffiti I did with a few classmates back in the art institute, about five years ago,” Alexander told Russia Beyond. The students were on a practical assignment in Rostov Veliky, where they decided to visit abandoned churches and paint inside them.

“In Russia there are lots of neglected architectural monuments. There are thousands of them, everyone’s forgotten about them and they’re literally falling to pieces. So we went there to raise awareness,” says the artist.

After the university, Alexander painted mainly mosaics and icons in and for churches. Only in May of this year did he and a group of graffiti artists head out into the streets. “The first thing I did was draw a huge Savior. It was really cool. I realized that’s what I wanted to do.”

Graffiti icon painting is an attempt to bring icons out of the churches and into people’s everyday lives, to rethink them in a new context, he says. “Icon painting is a beautiful art, it kick-started the Renaissance.

Alexander’s activity forms part of a large art project called After Icon, involving several dozen artists. The project covers everything from organizing exhibitions in museums and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to creating street art. The aim is to revive the dialogue on Christianity in contemporary art.

Alexander has the Orthodox Church’s blessing for his graffiti and has never once encountered opposition.

Tranlated by rbth.com.

Photo courtersy of Instagram/ Aleksandr Tsypkov

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