( … ) In general, all good church art has the same features as good art from whatever era – it must meet the general requirements of art: it cannot be epigonic, it must be inventive, unexpected, original – even when it is from the time of strict canons. The accents of Christian thought were formulated best by medieval  Byzantine and Romanesque art. For example, medieval icons embodied the true and, to my mind, irrevocable expression of art as a form of prayer. The 16th century Renaissance no longer idealized God, but nature, man, through perfect reproduction of the depicted narrative. However, this at first sight, much-needed development of the Renaissance means of expression was the first serious and dangerous attempt to divest art of its religious significance. This process continues to this day. And neither Raphael’s Madonnas, nor Michelangelo’s “Sacred Family” or Peter Paul Rubens’ religious stories have anything to say about the sacredness of the Christian narrative. Representatives of the Renaissance are playing and flirting with biblical scenes and art forms. No wonder that being aware of this, some European bishops removed Renaissance art works from the altars and placed them in museums. In the first half of the 20th century, French converts proved that it is possible to talk about – by using a modern, artistic language – the essential, deep things, such as the search and discovery of God, and alienation from God and return to him. In art, it is crucial to be able to express this profound experience using novel, authentic means. After all, even when looking at a great icon or the whole iconostasis somewhere in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Kremlin in Moscow, we remain modern people damaged by existentialism. So, standing in front of a masterpiece by Theophanes the Greek or Andrei Rublev, we may not only feel the perfect creation of the human and God, but also remember the break in the visual arts which occurred after Peter I. Show me at least one really good icon created between the 18th and the 21st centuries. They do not exist because the cycle of prayerful art had already ended. It seems that once the Russians began their Europeanization, they completely lost this plastic sense – as if someone had clipped their wings. Maybe because the Renaissance worldview and artistic expression are completely foreign to the strict canons of icon painting. The 19th and 20th centuries saw an incredible evolution of Russian literature, poetry, and musical culture. But it was mostly secular, not sacred art. In Russia, you won’t find a church, monastery, fresco or icon created between the 7th and the 14th centuries that is of poor quality. ( … ) the paintings and statues, the overall architecture of the church should first and foremost help one get closer to God – the true God and not God’s image that we have ourselves conceived. No visual chitchat or technological squalidness should interfere with this deep spiritual encounter. After all, the tradition of the Catholic Church makes use of all possible forms to “domesticate” man (in a good sense) and appeals to all the senses: in a church we worship God through our ears and minds when we hear the word of God and his priest’s comments, listen to church music or sing ourselves; we worship God through our eyes – when we see a servant of God by the altar, dressed in a symbolic attire; we follow the liturgical action, see the paintings, statues, and architecture of the altars; we worship God through the smell – the flowers, incense, and candles; we worship even through our taste – by accepting the Communion in the form of consecrated bread and wine. Thus, the tradition of the Church exploits all cultural means and capabilities to bring a person closer to God. Therefore, people of culture (especially members of the Church) are responsible to make sure that these forms of church culture are not depreciated. And it does not matter that sometimes the church administration or community wants imitations, is accustomed to them. The community has no right to become a faceless parish herd. God wants a cooperation and blossoming of personalities, creative courage and fullness, because God himself is the most creative, unique, and therefore perfect. If these requirements are ignored, we might inadvertently begin to adjust God to our own convenience and needs, and turn him into an imitation. This is no joke. (…) (From Rozana Šleževičiūtė’s interview with Vaidotas Žukas)