A church painted by “Petrykivka” ornaments has appeared in Kyiv

A church painted by “Petrykivka” ornaments has appeared in Kyiv
August 9, 2011 22:03

Now Kyiv has a church ornamented by Petrykivka painting. The interior of the Saint George church belonging to the Kyiv patriarchy was painted by two artists from Petrykivka village – Halyna Nazarenko and Iryna Kibets – within several weeks.

It is the first church in history painted by Petrykivka ornaments. It is situated on the Mykhailo square behind the “Intercontinental” hotel. Neither the senior priest no the artists have never seen any similar ornaments in religious institutions though they say that way back Cossacks used to paint their churches using vegetative ornaments. Also, similar ornaments were used by artists of many world religions for ornamenting different temples.

Archpriest Serhiy Stankevych, the senior priest of the Saint George church (Kyiv patriarchy):
“Petrykivka is a Ukrainian reply to different religious ornaments existing in the world. Different religions use vegetative patterns in ornaments — just consider the flowers into which Armenians turn their stones; wonderful ornaments with vegetative patterns created by Jews; beauty of the Islamic ornaments.

Petrykivka is our perception of the Psalm 47 “the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth”. Each small flower can be the evidence of the great beauty and wisdom of God.”

The idea of decorating the church by Petrykivka came from the parishioners who accidentally visited the exhibition of Halyna Nazarenko in Kyiv Sophia.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that using Petrykivka in a wooden church one can visually represent the theological idea about the “garden we have to take care of” – the garden of each person’s heart and soul – so that it will always be blooming.

Some time ago each church, to say nothing about monasteries, used to have a garden as a memory about Eden. These gardens were taken good care of because to some degree they served as visiting cards of the parishes and churches. This tradition seems to have survived but it is getting more and more difficult to preserve it in cities.

If I am not mistaken, at the place of the Mykolay church at the Ascold grave, a dean used to have a large collection of rose bushes before the October revolution. They say it comprised more than 250 kinds. Just imagine this! Seasons change, autumn and winter come and people should wait for the next summer but when one enters a church one sees the summer – flowering and shining! That is why I consider this idea with the ornamenting appropriate.

According to the senior priest, ornamenting of the church interior is done following the stated Christian traditions and all the colors have their deep significance.

“The symbol of Christ is a rose; the symbol of the Blessed Virgin is a lily, and as for grapes, there’s even a small sermon concerning the way we have to be. Our God said that he is the vine and the apostles are the bunch of grapes. In wheat ears we see a hint at the bread and wine being the body and the blood of the Savior. Forget-me-nots are symbols of ordinary people… And the unity of the Blessed Virgin, the Savior and us produces this grace of our nature and our revival in Christ. So this small bunch of flowers contains a great idea. In one word, these ornaments can be read as an open book.”

Though it’s not iconography, the colors also conform to a definite canon. The lower chasuble of Christ is usually pictured in red and the upper one is blue symbolizing the unity of the divinity and humanity.

Because this very church is of Saint George the Victorious, its symbolic color is red. You will see a lot of red George’s crosses in the ornaments. In this way it’s highlighted that the church is under the protection of Saint George.

Any church decorations are not esthetic ornamentation, they serve as prayers, maybe specific ones, but prayers none the less. That is why churches are decorated and each of them – in a proper way. If this church was built of marble it would have different decorations…”.

Halyna Nazarenko, a master of Petrykivka ornamenting, is painting a church for the first time in her life in spite of her extensive experience several tens of years long. She says she has always been strongly attracted to Christian themes. She happened to ornament icons with Petrykivka, but painting of a church is a very serious task.

Halyna Nazarenko, a master of Petrykivka ornamenting:
“I painted seraphs at home, and I didn’t manage to make them until I lighted a church candle. Without it I wasn’t able even to make a sketch – maybe it was because I felt great responsibility”.

The project required designer’s work before the artists started painting. The design was developed by an experienced specialist (knowledgeable in the church construction, religious traditions and having an experience with wooden churches). This project was considered and approved by the senior priest.

“The designer gave us valuable recommendations. At the beginning, she told us to make the flowers in the shape of St’ George’s cross and add roses and lilies. And speaking about these small bud-bunches, it should be said that they do not look like flowers from the distance but more like lines dragging the column up. It takes a specialist to see such things.

For the moment of the conversation the artists were completing painting of the sanctuary – the place where people gather for the prayers and where all church events take place (Christening, wedding ceremonies, masses, public prayers, communions). Besides this, the church has the inner sanctum — the altar separated from the sanctuary by the iconostasis. According to the chief priest, this place will be decorated by a man, a master recommended by the artists, because it’s in the ancient tradition that only men and women-nuns.

The story of the place where the Saint George church is located is told by its senior priest father Serhiy Stankevych (Ukr).

Kateryna Kachur, “Rukotvory”

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