Ivan Shishman, 50, a father of seven, restorer artist from the town of Izmail, Ukraine. Ivan was born in the USSR, an atheistic and very biased against Orthodox Christianity – and basically any religion – country. His family was not religious, and only his grandmother still remembered the old times, when people used to go the church on holiday and worshipped God. Ivan graduated from teacher training institute and taught physical training at school. In the 90s of the past century, after the fall of the Soviet Union, he was into some small business, ran a video hire shop and used to show erotic films in video clubs on the town beach. It remains unclear, what exactly triggered such a sudden change of his mentality, yet Ivan has become a deeply religious person. He started to regularly attend services in the house of God, later he discovered his artistic talent and started restoring and renewing wall paintings in Orthodox churches. Before long he was commissioned to make wall paintings in new churches. These photographs were taken within three years in Izmail, where Ivan lives with his family and has recently had his seventh child, and in the little town of Rzhishchev, near Kiev, where he is coming all these years to paint a church. Ivan also paints pictures, mainly on religious themes. Ivan Shishman lives with love to God and, as he puts it himself, “it shows in every stroke of his paint-brush”.

Ukraine, Izmail, Rzhishchev, 2006-2009