'Christianity is always contemporary': Easter eggs meet modern art

Alexey Nikolaev
According to legend, Mary Magdalene gave the Roman emperor Tiberius an ordinary egg that turned red, thereby confirming the truth of Christ’s resurrection. Since then, the Christian tradition of Easter egg-painting has become an art form. RBTH asked modern artists to paint eggs in the style of their choosing and to share their Easter memories.
Gesha KimMom used to tie chicken eggs with a string and boil them in onion skins. I always liked this random "handmade-ness". You could endlessly twirl each egg in your hand, and uncover whole stories in these abstractions. Easter, of course, would not be Easter without kulich [traditional Orthodox Easter cake]. I’d always eat the sugar topping before selecting the choicest raisins inside the puffy dough.The technique is fairly standard, just a brush and acrylic. I’ve always been interested in the multifaceted and contradictory nature of a single individual. I guess I love anything strange, outlandish and quirky.
Alya HestantiThe whole family usually got together for Easter, even distant relatives. Our great-grandmother painted eggs in onion skins, and then lubricated them with vegetable oil. They ended up this deep lilac color, which I can’t reproduce. Great-granny never revealed her secret.In my works I usually use everyday materials, in this case metallized tape and plastic studs. It takes me back to childhood, when every waking moment was sparkling.
Andrei ShevchenkoWe never celebrated Easter in my family. The alien in a red flying saucer that I’m drawing on this egg represents the supreme intellect that everyone talks about. Its morality is superior to the constitutions of all the countries of the world combined. And it has higher moral values than those preached by the religions on planet Earth. It should be heeded. That’s what my work’s connected to. It’s about advancing wisdom on planet Earth. As for technique, I use acrylic, appliqué and a bit of magic.
Elena DrozdovaIt’s a game where you sit opposite each other about two meters away and roll eggs at your opponent: one breaks on impact, the other remains intact. I never understood why the loser got to eat their egg, while the winner had to carry on rolling.I don’t remember if it was ever explained to me what the holiday was all about, why there were eggs, why we were are all together, why everyone was so jolly. When I think about eggs, I can’t help pondering the old cliché about which came first, the chicken or the egg? I know what a dinosaur is, but what came before it—an egg or another dinosaur? What about turtles? I always go back to first principles, to primordial chaos, to the pupil—that tiny black hole at the heart of the eye, to the rupture of bodily reality, to the tranquility of night in which there is everything and nothing, like inside an egg there is a chicken and a dinosaur and a turtle, as well as the theory of the big bang, and who knows what else. Only a small, warm, unknowable light can shine from within the unsifted blackness of the chaos of night. This small, warm, unknowable light can engender the cosmos and life itself, just as a chick can hatch from an egg. It’s a dinosaur, a turtle, and who knows what else.
Dmitry SamodinAs a child, for me Easter was like a second New Year. I clearly remember that time: how people on that day broke into cemeteries, blocked the streets, it was monstrous ... It was that “perestroika” time, the year was 1988-89. It was very fashionable to be a “believer”, but very few people understood what it was about. Such events were the norm. After all, Easter is the Resurrection, a feast for the living, but then there was the cemetery...I use eggs in my work as a symbol of the sky and a pedestal with coins to symbolize the earth. There’s nothing wrong with that, everything’s interconnected. So the egg almost touches the ground, because everything seems so close to us... But how often we're mistaken!
Varvara GrankovaWe used to prepare for Easter well in advance: the whole week we scrubbed our apartment and washed all the windows, even the dustiest corners of the rooms. Curd pascha [Orthodox Easter pudding], the recipe for which goes back generations in our family, was made the Wednesday before, because it needed two days for the excess moisture to drain off, and then another 24 hours to set under pressure. We used various special paints, as well as crayons, pastels, acrylics and threads, to decorate the eggs as inspiration dictated. Usually our eggs were the brightest and most psychedelic on the whole table.As usual, I began painting this egg before coming up with a theme. Gradually the abstract lines took the form of a city in the early morning, which I drew with acrylic and markers.
Kirill ZhilkinOur family always celebrated Easter according to the book, i.e. we went to church first of all, and consecrated kulich cakes and eggs.My egg-coloring is done with oil paint. The idea comes from the Catholic philosopher Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, who wrote about the “cross of reality”—a person should be at the center of this cross, looking simultaneously in all four directions: past, future, outside and inside himself. Christianity is always contemporary, and, for me, making sense of it is a key feature of art.

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