Opening of Beata Domagała icon’s exhibition
July 19th, 2014, Olesno Regional Museum held opening of Beata Domagała’s icons, Olesno-born who expresses here talen and passion in painting, especially in writting icons.
She got fascinated and still gets fascinates with this particular form of religious art, which was created by the Byzantine and Christian cultures, characteristic for Eastern Churches, including the Orthodox and the Greek Catholic. Wood-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. 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. The icon is not an ordinary religious image. Painting, writing to be more specific, was a holy activity .
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. Icons are designed to deepen the spiritual life and guide into prayer. People who want to learn writing new icons, must first of all take care of inner calm and concentration. You need to find time to work without interference from outside. Proper lighting, appropriate table and utensils, handouts, and reproductions of icons are required. In creating the right mood You listen to recordings of Orthodox liturgy, Gregorian chant and classical music. Writing an icon is an opposition to subjective expression as it requires identification with tradition. Exhibition provokes to ask the question - what an icon is? Is it only a sacred image or something more, something that is associated with the realm of spirituality. The personal contact with the icon is not only an inspiration for Your own research, workshop techniques and symbolism study but, above all, to explore the mystery and charm of painting. Beata Domagala professionally has nothing to do with art, because for years she works in a large, international manufacturing companies as chief human resources . Her icons are the fruit of studying icon-writting on Byzantine Painting Studio ,,Fabrica Eclessia" run by Katarzyba and Jaroslaw Kula in Czestochowa. B. Domagala learned about the school from Internet. I really like writing icons, especially their spiritual dimension, due to the fact that they depict scenes from the Bible and the lives of saints - says Beata Domagala, who came for the course from Wroclaw. Katarzyna and Jaroslaw Kula from Czestochowa had done the icon of St. Edita Stein, which the President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, recieved during his stay in Lubliniec, during 740th anniversary of the city.
During the exhibition variety of icon’s expositions and theme were shown. There is 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 Iur Lady of Jamna. Icons-writting by Beata Domagała is beauty and harmony. Made with great solicitude, with traditional technique using original pigments used for centuries. Beata Domagala is also engaged in oil painting, pastel, watercolor, painting on silk and glass. B. Domagala says that creation of icons give her inner strength and peace of mind. They are charged with emotional load that moves and gives energy to operate. Her icons move the viewer’s inner side, are expression of deep spiritual experience, creating an aura of mysticism. That's the beauty steeped in mystery, because the icon is not only presenting characters, but also makes them present.
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. Documents Nicea Council II from 787 mention that there was a tradition of performing icons since apostolic times. Icon genesis stems from late antic portrait painting. 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. Hypatius of Ephesus in the VI century writes about bowing before the icon. 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. 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. 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
- impositing 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. 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. Icon painting was strictly defined in textbooks called from the Greek. Hermeneia, or from Russian. Podlinniki, often 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.
On prepared boards with properly shaped recess in the front part, where actual content is affixed - so. kowczeg, reinforced on the back with brace, ground chalk-alabaster was applied. Kowczeg is shallow (5mm) recess in the middle of board front side. In church-slavonic language word „kowczeg” means ark and refers to the Ark of the Covenant. This points on sacred character of the image as a kind of relic. Outline of the image was put on the ground. It was drawn or redrawn from textbooks and then paint and gilding was applied in a specific order. At the end a subtitles in Greek or Old-Church-Slavic were added with the names of saints or explanations scenes (usually placed in the icon area). Sacred Names (Christ, the Mother of God) was placed in the Greek shortcuts (abbreviations). The icon for Eastern Christian is liturgical text, sacramentale, 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. Also, spiritual preparation was important (prayer, fasting). 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.
Frequently icons are painted flat, without taking painting perspective into account, which usually gives illusion of three-dimensional space. In most cases, they are deprived of the classical linear perspective. Often important of various picture elements is emphasized by showing most important figures in a larger scale.
In Byzantine, art sense was sought in beauty. Canon assumed painting with pure colors (mixing colors was not allowed) and using gliding in large quantities. Color was threaten just as important as the word, and because each of them is important, also the colors were translated into symbols, which gave them a very precise meaning:
Gold symbolized holiness, devotion, honor, immortality, God's glory,
Purple: power and wealth,
Red meant life, blood, beauty and purity,
Divinity portrayed white, purity and innocence,
blue sky indulged, but also spirituality and mysticism,
Green: life, eternal youth, fertility, internal wealth,
Brown was the symbol of the earth, matter, poverty.
Byzantine color symbolism was adopted in Russia, but the colors, embedded in national tradition, there became more vivid and bright.
Popularized, especially by Russian and Polish authors, term "writing icons", emphasizing the sacred, liturgical nature of icons. Means the process of its formation. According to the researchers (eg. Fr. Henryk Paprocki) term is the result of a mistranslation from Greek language, in which the word ????? (like ?????? in Russian) means both write and paint (hence the Russian. Ikonopisiec - from the Greek ikonographos ).
The anonymous author was suppose to help follow icon in the right direction. Prayer before the icon is associated with a specific ritual: with candles lit, the faithfuls bow before icons, kiss them. Icon plays an important role in the cult of Eastern churches, it is the presentation of a saint, his personification and representation. Provides a link with saint, mediates in prayer. It is believed that he or she is present in a given place thanks to the icon.
Clean colors used for painting and gilding take on a special glow with the candles flame. Candle flame is a symbol of soul elevation to God. Bow reminds us that not only the soul but also the body should participate in a prayer. Received from God is not worse than the mind and have the right to equally participate in a conversation with God. Because of the icon’s sanctity, it could not be traded or used for earning, which from believers’ point of view, was considered a sin.
TYPES OF PERFORMANCES
Icon of the Savior
The most important icon is an icon of Christ. Canon of Christ's presentation was adopted in the IX century. Icongraphers distinguish Christ written into a halo of nine cross the line. His colors: blue and red have their symbolism, are divine and earthly nature of Christ. The most common ways of presenting Christ:
-Pantokrator: Presentation of Jesus as the God King, the Lord of all,
-Mandylion or Veraicon: (not made by human hands) – Christ image, showing the face of the Savior on developed sling,
-Saviour in the forces: the majesty of Savior, Redeemer enthroned between powers: ikononographic representation of Christ Pantocrator, which sits in the center, on a throne against three mandorla presented as red diamond, dark blue oval and red square at the bottom,
-Emmanuel: Iconographic type of Christ present in adolescence,
-Great High Priest: presentation of Christ based on Old Testaments’ prophecy "You are a priest Melchizedek", showing Christ in priestly garments,
-Do not despair for me Mother: iconographic equivalent of western Christian Pieta, depicting Christ naked, half lodged in the grave, his eyes closed, his head bowed and hands arranged in the sign of the cross. On the right side, Mother of God sustains and hugs Son
-Deesis (prayer, request): three-part imaging of the saints - Christ as Pantocrator in the center, Mary next, then John the Baptist (small Deesis), apostles Peter and Paul and the prophets (great Deesis)
-King of the Kings: presentation developed in the XIV and XV centuries in serbian art, then widespread in Russia, a variant of Deesis, where John the Baptist was replaced by King David and other prophets,
-Old Testament Christ: iconographic representation of Christ as the Old Testament, white-haired God-old man,
-Blissful Silence: Presentation of Christ as the Angel of Great Council, before the Incarnation, in the form of a young man with wings behind his back, dressed in a white dalmatic with wide sleeves.
Icons of Mother of God
Mother of God on the Russian icons is always with worried expression on her face. Her sadness is, however, with different shades of sorrow, reflection but always brings wisdom and inner strength. She is filled with motherly blessing. Mother of God is presented in different ways: revealing Jesus Infant to the world, tenderly hugging It or holds. The basic types of representations of Mother of God are:
-Eleusa: (sensitivity, mercy), Child hugs his cheek to the Mother of God,
-Hodegetria: (guide, pointing the way) presentation of the Mother of God, which with right hand points to Christ Emmanuel, held on the left shoulder. Hodegetria name derives from the name of temple in Constantinople Hodegon, in which the oldest type of that icon was stored.
Oranta: is one of the oldest representations of the Mother of God, as she was painted by first Christians. Mother of God in prayer rises her hands upwards. According to traditional belief in Orthodoxy, when Mary puts her hands down, the world would end.
Icon of the Holy Trinity
Canon of the Holy Trinity icon is based on the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, where under the oak in Mamre God revealed himself to Abraham and Sarah in figures of three angels. It was thought, including St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Ambrose of Milan, that the Old Testament at this point refers to the Trinity. Its presentation caused iconographers with many problems arising from difficulties, in terms of such an abstract concept as God in Three Persons. Cross was placed in the middle of an middle angel, considered to be Son of God at that moment, or over the heads of all three. Problem was resolved in 1551 by Russian tsar Ivan IV the Terrible during so called Council of Hundred Chapters. Referring to the earliest icons of Holy Trinity and depicting of these by Andrei Rublev, Ivan ordered not to place the crosses at all.
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. Photo of artist and her guests was taken on Olesno marketplace. People from outside Olesno visited the church of Saint Anne.
The exhibition is open from 19 July to 26 September. WELCOME.
Added: 21 July 2014, Author: Ewa Cichoń