“Modern” Icons what a concept! But in truth, that is what we are creating – Icons that are built upon the solid foundation of the past, but also informed with the spiritual transformative issues of our own time.
I also think that the Icon can be an agent of spiritual transformation, inducing restorative healing and re-integration regarding our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There are so many types and genres of Icons and each has a power to meet us half way taking us into closer union with God as we contemplate and enter into prayer.
I’d like to draw your attention to this article in the Orthodox Art Journal. It is an interview with highly educated Serbian Iconographer Todor Mitrovic, whose visual “style” is modern and interpretive. Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Mitrovic:
“As with all great art, Medieval icons are full of sophisticated messages and we can speak with them every day, and (exactly because of this) it is almost an insult to treat such depth as a surface to be copied. Old icons are copied because we recognize their depth, but if there is the possibility to learn the language they speak (instead of transcribing visual text we do not understand) it is irresponsible not to explore such a possibility. Learning this language should be our starting point: only when we use this language in creative ways (and it’s similar to the way a poet uses it while writing hymnography) can our icons become actual theology in color.
So finally, my answer to the initial question is: we cannot escape being contemporary in icon painting, but it is up to us to decide how to use our contemporary position. Are we going to use it as an artistic/technological process to hide our spiritual confusion, or are we going to use it as a way of an active Christian being in the world?”
And: “I suggest a different option: If we want to do something evangelical with our Church art, then we need to learn the language of Medieval art and the language of contemporary art. We need to identify the achievements from the second and use them to inform the first. This is the only way the renovation of Medieval art can become the authentic pictorial language of the church, and not some archaeological or museum project, produced for experts or the elite and overlaid with the pious aroma of Medievalism.”
It is exciting that Iconographers around the world are grappling with the task of creating Holy and sacred Icons that speak to our modern times. I suggest you read the entire article, see the images, and also read the comments to get a grasp on the nature of this endeavor.
Here in Albany, the Saint Luke’s Guild of Iconography will be “spreading the joy of Icons” at Westminster Presbyterian Church on State Street, Albany for the May 6 First Friday Celebration, and also for Sat. June 4 at the First Presbyterian Church, Hudson, NY.
Our regular Monday evening Icon writing class will meet every Monday except April 18, from 6-9PM.
I’ll be leading an “Introduction to Icon Writing Retreat” at Holy Cross Monastery, May 6-8. Egg tempera and gold leaf gilding. Still time to register.
Be well, until next month, Blessings,
Christine Hales www.newchristianaicons.com