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Icons give me piece of mind

Olesno. Until September 26th in Olesno Regional Museum You can see icons made by Beata Domagała. Icons give me inner strength and piece of mind – says Olesno-born artist.

Beata Domgała was born and raised in Olesno. She is a polish language teacher by profession but she taught English in the Olesno’s Secondary School of Economics and General Education. For several years she works in large, international manufacturing corporations as HR Director.

- Painting is my great passion and source of joy – says Beata Domagała.
- After many years of searching for most suitable technique and artistic field, I decided to do icon writting and painting on silk and glass. I learn icon writing in Byzantine Painting Studio ,,Fabrica Eclessia" run by Katarzyna and Jaroslaw Kula in Czestochowa. She does also oil painting, pastel, watercolor and other techniques.
- My biggest love are icons – points out Beata Domagała – I make them in traditional technique, with original pigments used for centuries. Why icons? Because the give inner strength and piece of mind. They are charged with intense emotions which moves and give power to act.

Icons born out of prayer
Icon-writting is a special form of sacred art, developed in Byzantine and Christian cultures, characteristic for Eastern Churches, including the Orthodox and the Greek Catholic. ood-written paintings, stunning with abundance of colors and intricately finish, show figures of Christ, the Virgin, the saints and scenes from their lives, biblical and liturgical themes and symbolic – says Ewa Cichoń, director of Reginal Museum in Olesno. - Icons were written mostly on a specially prepared cedar or cypress wood. They were sacred trees for Eastern Christianity. Rus used linden or pine wood. You need to know that con is not an ordinary religious image.
- Painting, writing to be more specific, was a holy activity – stress out director of museum. The icon, which made in the monasteries of Old Rus, written by senior monks, was an emanation of deity, which guided the hand of it’s creator. Born in prayer, before work required specific fasts, was created in kneeling position.

Beauty immersed in mistery
Icons presented in Olesno depictures Christ Pantocrator, Mandylion, Holy Trinity according to the icon by Andrei Rublev, images of the Virgin in the Eleusy and Hodegetria type, Archangel Michael, St. Family, St. Peter, St. Barbara, St. Christopher and St. King, as well as contemporary icons like Our Lady of Jamna.
Her icons move the viewer’s inner side, are expression of deep spiritual experience, creating an aura of mysticism – comments Ewa Cichoń - That's the beauty immersed in mystery, because the icon is not only presenting characters, but also makes them present.

Water and ...egg yolk.
The prototypes for icons were probably funerary portraits of Fayum and early Christian catacomb painting.
- According to Christian tradition, the first author of icons was St. Luke the Evangelist – Ewa Cichoń continues the story - The first source rumors about icon existence can be found in writings of the fourth century. Eusebius of Caesarea, Epiphanius of Cyprus and St. Augustine from V century. Reaction to the veneration of icons (ikonodulizm) was the iconoclastic movement called iconoclasm, rampant in the VIII and IX centuries in Byzantium.
-As a result, many valuable works of art were irretrievably destroyed – follows up the director - The oldest of the surviving icons, dating back to the VI century come from the monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai. Icon painting developed in the Byzantine Empire until its demise in the first half of XV century as well as in the areas covered by the Byzantine cultural influence in the Balkans (Greece, Serbia), in medieval Italy and especially in Russia.
- The oldest icons were painted in encaustic technique by a combination of beeswax with a painting binder – explains Ewa Cichoń - From the VI century these paints were replaced with egg tempera in which the water is a binder, mixed with egg yolk.
The new technique involved use of following four steps: sticking fabric to the board, priming with glue mixed with chalk or gypsum, imposing paint and gilding, protecting the icon with varnish or oil based lacquer. - Sometimes the finished icon is overlapped with metal-casted dress (silver or gold) or made with repoussé technique, with holes for the face and hands of illustrated embodiment. However drawing on metal sheet repeats exactly the parts of image it’s covering – says Ewa Cichoń. -Icons were also made as mosaic, enamel, carved in wood, marble, steatite (metamorphic rock) or ivory. Late icons of the XIX century and early XX century were also painted in oil.

Image of other world
Icon painting was strictly defined in textbook soften written by monks-painters. This tradition was associated not only with the iconography, but also was related to the material, surface preparation, special technology, right colors and even the order of putting layers of paint.
- The icon for Eastern Christian is liturgical text, sacramental, as well as the "image of the other world"and therefore it could not be created without prior theological preparation of the painter, possibly under the strict supervision of theologian – Ewa Cichoń continues - Icon was always varnished, thus kept its appearance for about 100 years. Then, as a result of changes in the varnish color, entire artwork darkened. In addition, it was covered with a layer of soot from candles. Sometimes, on the faded, poorly visible image a new one was painted. Ikons were decorated with precious stones, silver fittings or gold plate. Sometimes instead of wood, a metal or canvas was used.
Color was threaten just as important as the word. Each has special meaning.
- Gold symbolized holiness, devotion, honor, immortality, God's glory. - enlists the director. - Purple: power and wealth. Red meant life, blood, beauty and purity. White portrayed Divinity, purity and innocence. Blue indulged sky but also spirituality and mysticism. Green is life, eternal youth, fertility, internal wealth. Brown was the symbol of the earth, matter, poverty.


Opening of Beata Domagała’s exhibition brought crowds of her talent’s admirers, family, friends, Mayor of Olesno, Sylwester Lewicki, former vicar of Olesno, Father Aleksander Kawa. - The author of icons had prepared beautifull folder and a supprise of drawing - by which the winner received the icon of Michael the Archangel. - summarise Ewa Cichoń.