Oleksandr Antonyuk "God offers human not to be just an observer, but an active participant in His plans."

Tama: Father Yuriy Shchurko, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology and Doctor of Biblical Theology at the Ukrainian Catholic University, when referring to the genre of apocalypses, described them as \"pamphlets for bad times\", calling the occasionally hypertrophied symbolism in the texts as one having a simultaneously explanatory and calming function in difficult and probationary times. It is known that John The Apostle wrote his Book of Revelation, where he describes the story of the 7 Seals in a difficult time for Christians during the persecutions. Revelation describes the events that preceded the second coming of Christ and were accompanied by a series of rather gloomy and even catastrophic events - why did you decide to make an exhibition on this topic? 

Oleksandr: The Bible can be read as a work of art, but then you deprive yourself of the opportunity to understand what the text is really about.

The Bible is a book about God\'s will, and although it speaks to us in simple plain language, it is about challenging things. This is especially true with the prophecies.

As for difficult times, there never have been easy times for believers. After all, being a believer means daily work on yourself, and this is hard labour. People usually consider tough times and harsh circumstances to be God\'s testing. Still, times of calmness and prosperity are also a test and sometimes much more difficult to pass. I have referred to the book of Revelation before, but these were isolated works. So far, I have decided to make this series of paintings, which I plan to continue later.

Tama: Each piece in this exhibition corresponds with a specific passage from the New Testament – for instance, the paragraphs about the Horseman of the Apocalypse are quite gloomy (they are believed to be the harbingers of discord, war, disease, famine and death), however, in your paintings at least with the First and Third Horseman, they do not look threatening even one bit - what was your idea here?

Oleksandr: Each artwork is rather a retelling, an illustration of the text. I deliberately tried to avoid bringing in my own interpretation of the images. To do this, you need to either thoroughly understand what is written or, conversely, have only a superficial idea of the content. The aim was to remind that such a book exists and encourage the viewer to read the original source.

Tama: The \"Sixth Seal\" is supposed to depict four beings (this Old Testament metaphor allegedly comes from the book of Ezekiel) - a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle (which later interpretations often pose as the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, respectively), but in your painting, there are only three animals and no human - why so?

Oleksandr: The \"Sixth Seal\" unlike the rest, is not a direct quote. Four beings are supposed to be present at the seals\' opening and are repeatedly mentioned throughout the text. The third of these beings is told to have a \"face like a human.\" She is absent from the painting but has to be present as a \"spectator\". This is an invitation to cooperate. God offers human not to be just an observer, but an active participant in His plans. Therefore, it reveals in advance to the person the events that are to happen in the future.

Tama: In order to understand the concept of the exhibition, I had to spend a couple of days reading and interpreting passages from the Revelation - and in our case, given the lack of a formal annotation to the exhibition, the viewer\'s task of understanding and making sense is becoming increasingly more challenging – how did you expect the viewers to approach \"Seven Seals\"?

Oleksandr: I don\'t think any particular approach is needed. It never hurts to read or reread the book of Revelation. It will be beneficial in any case.

Tama: The last painting of the exhibition is the image \"Seven Seals\", the description of which ends with the words: \"And I wept greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it.\" – is it a bleak statement or maybe an allusion on something?

Oleksandr: In fact, \"Seven Seals\" is supposed to be not the last, but the first painting. And these words precede the events, each of which begins with the breaking of the seal. Ivan\'s eyes are closed with his palms. This is the hint that to see the real world, it\'s the other eyes that you need.

\"While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man\'s eyes. \"Go,\" he told him, \"wash in the Pool of Siloam\" (this word means \"Sent\"). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

John 9:1-12

Tama Kipiani