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Vatican commissions Los Angeles artist

October 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local artist prepares to head to northern Italy, where his massive painting will be unveiled at a church and blessed by the pope himself.In his spacious loft in downtown Los Angeles, Yuri Gevorgian put the finishing touches on his most recent work, a portrait of an Italian saint that he was commissioned by the Vatican to paint.

"First, I didn't believe it, and I thought it was some kind of mistake because there are so many great painters in Italy, they can paint beautiful renaissance-style paintings. But then they said, 'No we specifically want you because we like your style of work,'" said Gevorgian.

Gevorgian, who is known professionally as Yuroz, used a combination of styles with a focus on his signature cubism to create his portrait of Father Arcangelo Tadini, also known as the saint for the working woman. The artist says he's tried to capture the essence of Tadini's character.

"The idea of what this man was all about is that he was a very compassionate man. When you look at the painting, his compassion is expressed in the blue roses. The blue color is the color of healing and rose is the symbol of love," explained Gevorgian.

His painting tells the story of Tadini, who helped get women off the street and set up schools for their children.

Helping the homeless is something that hits home to Gevorgian, who was once a starving artist living on the streets of Los Angeles.

Now, more than 20 years later, he has gained international acclaim for his work.

But the highest honor may be a 6-by-9-feet oil painting which is about to become a piece of history displayed in a church in Botticino, Italy.

"I'm very excited; I hope it serves the purpose make sure it's not only about religion; it's about the man behind the religion.