About icons

An icon constitutes a crucial part of Eastern Church spirituality. It is unreplaceable element in churches’ facilities, but it holds a place also in private houses. Hence there is a huge variety of formats, compositions, decorations, colors. Nowadays in museums we can see antique, large-sized and richly decorated icons created for churches, as well as small and modest home icons or miniature travel icons, which can be easily carried around.

Themes of icons varies according to time and place in which they were created, along with an ordering person’s individual requests. In the south-east area of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the most worshiped saints were: saint Nicloas, saint Paraskeva, saint John the Baptist, saint Dmitriy and Archangel Michael. Their images are commonly encountered, they were often chosen as patrons of local churches. Icons depict not only figures, but also biblical scenes, especially from New Testament called “praznyky”: the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, Descent of the Holy Spirit, Resurrection, Nativity. The icon of Holy Trinity was also a widespread topic, and several iconographic versions have been created. Jesus Christ was most commonly depicted as “Pantocrator” – “Almighty” enthroned or as “the Teacher” with open book. Another image was commonly known and often replicated – so called “Mandylion” or „Spas Nerukotwornyj”, which is an image of Christ’s face imprint on sacred veil. Although, one of the most favorites topics were, and still are, marian icons. Amongst them there are images of “Hodegetria” – “She Who Points the Way” with Jesus Child sitting on her lap, images of praying “Oranta” and “Pokrova” holding a veil over the worshipers’ heads as a sign of protection. 

Reality depicted in icons is different, it is a world with a reverse perspective. Icons represent abstract notions – they are not a direct reflection of the visible universe, but rather an attempt of showing the spiritual world in the most familiar, comprehensible manner which is visual language. A language based on archetypes, legible symbols, associations and emotions caused by them. We depict God as a human because a doctrine of Incarnation allows doing so – one can talk about spirituality with the help of shades and lines.

Aesthetics which are the closest to me don’t overlap with the first associations about icons. These are not shining-gilded, ornamented backgrounds; full of details, richly draped garments; three-dimensionality and abundance of form. My ideal is icon painting characterized by harmony and peace. I stand for minimalism, simplicity, clear drawing and composition, and original color scheme. Interestingly, by resigning from the glow of gold to only a few colors combined with each other in an unexpected way one can achieve the whole range of incredible effects.