LVIV, Ukraine – For years, no one paid attention to the wall of the former St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Lviv. However, it was the site of the toilet, where stained tiles covered layers of molded plaster and paint during Soviet renovations in the 1960s.
But four years ago, the new management of a cultural center that had a church, was looking for a rumored hidden artwork amidst its own renovations. After finishing the toilets and painstakingly removing layers of paint and plaster, a stained, centuries-old masterpiece began to emerge – a dramatic wall of Polish artists.John Henrik D. Rosen
“This beautiful masterpiece has been hidden for decades,” said Terra Demco, co-director of Organ Hall. “During the Soviet regime, they tried to hide any mention of anything connected with the Holy World.”
The corona virus epidemic caused limited attendance, and the Russian invasion forced the center to close briefly. Amidst the arrival of tens of thousands of people fleeing the hard-hit east in this relatively safe western city, its reopening is giving the rediscovered wall a whole new audience. Mr Demco said Organ Hall was offering free or discounted tickets to provide “a part of normal life” in the midst of the war.
De Rosen used oil mixed with thin wax for his work. In it, painted in the late 1920s or early 1930s, a stylized Jesus is baptized by St. John while other disciples watch from the beach.
A white line runs through the middle of the wall where the men’s and women’s restrooms were separated by a partition, destroying part of the work. But de Rosen’s generally expressive facial features, painted with real-life models, and its dirty lines depicting the Jordan River remain, and gold leaf and The vaulted ceiling still shines.
The church was originally built on a 17th-century site, later demolished and renovated in the early 1920s. In the 1960’s, when Ukraine was now officially part of the atheist Soviet Union, one in a thousand churches closed.
D. Rosen, who died in the United States in 1982, was one of the leading artists of the 20th century in the world of religious art. He was commissioned to paint the walls of the Pope’s summer residence in Italy, and he performed dramatic frescoes with Art Nouveau effects that cover the interior of the Armenian Cathedral in Lviv.
D. Rosen, a World War I veteran who served as a translator for the Versailles Peace Conference, emigrated to the United States in 1939 when the war broke out again.
In the United States, he taught art at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and among other things, he painted the walls of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. of that Roof mosaic at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington The concept of the amygdala is considered the greatest of its kind in the world.
Mr Demko said there were no plans to restore the cultural center wall to its original bright colors. He said it was a reminder of Russia’s past efforts to destroy Ukraine’s heritage and its current efforts to do so again.
“This place doesn’t do any sacred work, so it doesn’t need to be painted like an icon,” he said. “She should be able to tell the story so that it does not happen again.”