Russian Mafia Graves on Display in London Photo Exhibit

WASHINGTON, November 23 (RIA Novosti) – A series of photographs of the extravagant and kitsch gravestones of Russian mobsters has gone on display at an art gallery in London, marking the first time the images have been seen outside Russia, a culture website has reported.

The photographs by Denis Tarasov, from the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, capture the startlingly lifelike portraits engraved on the tombstones of mafiosi and “thieves-in-law” – a term which refers to the upper echelon of Russia’s criminal world and its leadership inside the Soviet Union’s prison camps.

Entire generations of mob families are represented on the tombstones, which Tarasov photographed in Yekaterinburg and the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk, The Calvert Journal reported.

Discussing his work, Tarasov told the site: “Photography allows you to see in an object something that wasn’t there to begin with. And that is why it is more interesting.”

The exhibit also features images of equally extravagant non-mafia tombstones, some as high as 3 meters (9.8 feet), that were paid for by well-to-do families, according to The Calvert Journal.

Tarasov’s photography has not always been received favorably in Russia, where an exhibition on Russian Cossacks was once banned by government officials in the city of Pervouralsk, The Calvert Journal reported Wednesday.

In London, his work seems to have met with a warmer reception.

The Calvert Journal quoted a visitor who said: “The photographs of the gravestones help you get a sense of the Russian mentality — something you don’t see when you travel there …When you go to another country, you don’t normally go visiting graveyards.”

Tarasov’s photographs are part of the Body Language exhibit running at the Saatchi Gallery in London until March 16.

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