Iconography today, as an art and as an approach to our faith,
its course throughout the modern world and its perspective,
is something that preoccupies me and puzzles me as a human
being serving this art I would like to point out some things
which are a personal thesaurus of experiences and knowledge.
The knowledge of tradition as well as the techniques of the great masters of
iconography in the past, are for me the basis and the motive to further progress.
At the beginning of our century, the return to the Byzantine art was of great
interest. Today our feelings are those of indifference and apathy! I should
say that Byzantine art of today is at risk of losing its admirers among the
literary artists and the people of church.
What is most important for me as an iconographer is to conceive the tragic
life of a Saint whom I then picture and try to transfer it to the expression
of his face and body so that the result would state that the depicted person
is a sanctified human being. Only in this way does the art of iconography become
interesting. It is otherwise self-abolished when it just copies older prototypes
and techniques in the pretext that it maintains the historic values of iconography.
The claim that coping the old models due to history and tradition,
is not sound and adequate, neither was it in the past
so that it could make iconography
a form of “ living art! This tactics, as we can see, has weakened it
and made it a non – real form of art.
It led it to a stalemate and it is simply copying. That is why the contemporary
orthodox iconography is not considered an art by a great number of people
but just copies of works of art. So like every other form of art iconography
to follow the demands of its time which means to believe,
to collect and realize the needs ( spiritual, social, personal ) of the contemporary
people and of the society in extent, without changing its theological and
social character. This has save and will save iconography.
There are several rules ( theological and aesthetic ) in
iconography, which we must respect and keep. The Byzantine
ecclesiastic painting was not monolithic.
It has a developing course. It took elements from other forms of art, it
remolded them pictorially and proved them theologically. A very strong
example is the
excellent work of those artists who opened a new road in painting based
on the same theological basis. It is easily recognizable
by all of them but
also by the history of Byzantine art such as : Panselinos, Michael and
Eutychios Astrapas, Theophanis the Greek, Theophanis
the Cretan, Andrey Rublov e.t.c.
Of course, one could wonder whether the modernization of the orthodox iconography
questions its authenticity. But the same developing course of the orthodox
iconography in the Byzantine era shows that despite the fact that such
a risk is possible, it won’t necessarily happen. The orthodox iconography can
also adopt new and purely decorative artistic elements without losing its orthodox
appearance. The influence of the ancient greek aesthetics, as well as the Fayoum
portraits, in the Byzantine painting, is obvious but this does not mean that
the orthodox iconography is lost. The “ orthodoxy “ of a artistic
work depends on the knowledge of theology on the part of the creator and its
imprinting in the form of an icon. Iconography is bound to be accessible to
contemporary believers. In an age of lack of communication and love, where
there is so much loneliness, Saints have to look like ourselves, be more tangible,
be our friends and our consolation. Only through such a relationship can we
come closer to God. The artist has to send the message that the depicted person
opposite him, once used to be a human being like everybody else, but with the
love of Jesus as a guide, managed to obtain saintness and the elevation of
human nature itself.
Each one of us has to stop and think that iconography is not just a worship
medium but also ART, which must be primarily concerned about aesthetics
and artistic details than just confine himself to copying old prototypes.
who will manage to compine all the above and put them in his work creatively,
begin to open a personal way of expression (style), or at least he will
have set a new target to that direction, a fact which can be characterized
one of the most important things in pursuit-if not the most important-for
artist. I honestly believe in this and through my work I try to fulfill
this difficult task.