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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

How do they paint icons today?

Ivan Honchar Museum hosts unique exhibition Glory to God in the Highest
21 January, 2014 - 10:58

Contemporary icons on display there, created at the Mykolaiv-based family icon workshop Heaven on Earth, include about 40 works from the artists’ oeuvre. They were done in different techniques, including original interpretations of Ukrainian and foreign schools of icon painting as well as the modern creative icon.

The organizers stress that every winter is a reference point in human life, bringing to a close one period and beginning another, full of new aspirations and hopes for the best. That is why the icon-painting family timed their exhibition to coincide with these major holidays.

The Church Fathers called icon a painted Gospel, philosophers see it as a kind of theology. The icon represents what we have seen, the earthly life of Jesus Christ, and what we have heard, His parables. It also visualizes through symbols and allegories what God revealed to the Church Fathers, the dogmatic teachings of the Church.

An example of this is 12-part icon Creed, on display for the first time. Each part of the icon represents one of the clauses of the Christian creed, containing the basic tenets of our faith.

Aside from the festive icons, like ones depicting Christmas, or portraying St. Nicholas, St. Catherine, etc., there are also pieces that encourage serious and deep thought. Icon of the Theotokos Mourning of Babies Murdered in the Womb, one of the most recent works of Mykolaiv painters, is a case in point.

Icon painters of the Heaven on Earth workshop believe that the icon has to be always new, relevant and understandable to modern people for whom it is being created. The icon should talk to them, call them to prayer.

“Icons serve didactic and instructive purposes, because they are visual aids conveying teachings of the Gospel. A series of 12 icons that illustrate the Creed, the Christian doctrine, is a case in point,” its co-author Maria Pavelko said.

The exhibition’s opening was accompanied by the folk music group Huliaihorod performing spiritual chants.

All icons were painted by seven artists: Serhii Pavelko, Ksenia Hliebova, Natalia Sobolieva, Kostiantyn Samoilenko, Kateryna Tsyrulik, Maria Pavelko, and Serhii Pomian. They use the old technology, employing natural materials only, such as boards of lime or cherry trees and powder paints made from natural materials and egg yolk combined with Epiphany water. By the way, Mykolaiv painters’ works are now appreciated abroad as well, especially in Switzerland, Germany, France and Japan.

The exhibition will run in Kyiv until January 26.