“Wrestling with Angels”Art at Museum of Russian Icons

By on November 26, 2019

“Wrestling with Angels,” a collection of 46 pieces recently on display at the Museum of Russian Icons in Massachusetts has its sights set on San Diego’s Timken Museum. The exhibit demonstrates to art lovers once again the power of traditional forms when they’re reinvented as contemporary art.

The exhibition, which was on display between July 19 and October 20, 2019, showcased icons created in the Russian Orthodox style by a talented team of artists, instructors and apprentices led by master iconographer Vladislav Andrejev.

Exhibition curator, Lynette Hull, thinks the Timken Museum would be an ideal location to display the icons to San Diego art lovers.

What Are Icons?

Icons are representations of holy figures. They typically depict Jesus Christ, the LORD God Himself, and saints who are objects of devotion in Eastern Orthodox churches.

During the Dark Ages, which spanned 400 A.D. to 900 A.D., for the most part common people could not read or write. Religious teachings were circulated as oral stories or handed down by priests who’d been educated to read the Gospels in Latin and Greek.

Then as now, however, a picture is worth a thousand words. The transcendent is more effectively painted than narrated. Workshops throughout Constantinople and other parts of the Byzantine Empire began turning out inexpensive portraits of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, saints, apostles and archangels. The portraits were painted on wooden panels, which made them portable.

When the Kievan Rus converted to Orthodox Christianity in the latter part of the 10th century, icons became an important part of Russian religious traditions. They played a central role in both worship and church decoration.

The Prosopon School of Iconology

The pieces on display in the “Wrestling with Angels” exhibition are the works of artists affiliated with the Prosopon School of Iconology in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The school was founded by the Russian-born artist Vladislav Andrejev who grew up under the Soviet regime where art with religious overtones was strictly forbidden.

Vladislav fell in love with iconography as a young man through his extensive travels throughout Soviet republics located in the Carpathian and Caucasus Mountains. He learned the art of making icons from the monk-iconographer Abbot Alipiy of the Pskov Caves Monastery and from other Orthodox monks who were forced to live in hiding.

Vladislav emigrated to the U.S. in 1980 and began teaching iconographic art shortly thereafter. He opened his school in 2000, naming it “Prosopon” after a word that’s very commonly found in the Greek Bible and which, loosely translated, means “the outward manifestation of God’s face.

Vladislav believes icons have a spiritual potential and meditative power that’s not unlike those attributed to mandalas. “Standing in front of the icon re-orients the viewer and reminds them of their own true self,” he observes. “That’s something we desperately need in our fractious world.”

About Jacqueline Maddison

Jacqueline Maddison is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Rancho Santa Fe Magazine. She believes in shining light on the best of the best in life. She welcomes you into the world of the ultimate luxury lifestyle.

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