2 months ago


A Glimpse towards the

A Glimpse towards the Inside (interview) | 149 Vase alese / The Chosen Vessels, painting from the private collection of Cristina Bogdan and Dragoş Bogdan. Robing in the light / Îmbrăcarea cu Lumină, oil on canvas. Interior with icons – Constantin Cioc’s workshop. cb: When you review an icon that you’ve already sent out into the world – you’ve given it, sold it, placed it inside a church or within an exhibition – does it still feel yours? cc: I don’t sign my paintings, even less my icons. I do admit I have a curiosity about my icons, about their road throughout the world, because I keep feeling them as mine, since they are the product of my hands. But once the icon is made flesh, meaning the icon as image set on wood and considered as completed, it no longer belongs to me and, obvious, neither it belongs to the solicitor. The icon begins to bear its own life, since it completely identifies with the saint it represents and who is present unspoken, simultaneously in both this world and the world beyond. The solicitor will indeed worship this icon and treasure it as something valuable, because he also has an existential reference to the icon. But, how should I put this? The icon does not belong to him. He will probably pass the icon as family inheritance and, most probably, the icon will travel throughout time. I cannot know if the icon made by my hand will possess a patrimonial value in time, but I think it will still represent something to the family where the icon is bestowed on, to the house in which the icon lives and to the souls for whom the icon is home. cb: To an icon, how important is the model? cc: To an icon, the model is extremely important. Practically, the condition of the icon’s conservation throughout time is the model itself. We need a prototype, precisely because we had an archetype. And this prototype must be kept, within all of his canonical data. cb: Do you believe in icons ‘not made by human hands’? cc: I believe in icons not-made-by-hands. And I also believe in miracle-working icons. What kind of believer would I be if I didn’t believe in them? cb: Can the icon communicate to someone who does not belong to the Christian culture? Can a man who enters a church or an exhibition understand the icon, despite not belonging to the spirit of the religion that hosts the icon? cc: (stays silent) It is very difficult for someone from a different faith than the Christian orthodox one (or Christian, in general), to relate to an icon in the same way, because he/she does not see and does not feel the same things Christians see and feel. To that someone, the icon remains

150 | Cristina Bogdan in dialogue with painter Constantin Cioc Saint Hypatios’ Cell on the Holy Mount Athos, pencil drawing on paper (August 2015). Vatopedi Monastery on the Holy Mount Athos, pencil drawing on paper (August 2015). an object, eventually an aesthetic one: it owns a certain historical background, a patrimonial value – an object that looks in a certain manner and carries a certain artistic expression. But he/she misses the icon’s spiritual content. That person does not possess the appropriate spiritual experience to gain a correct reference towards the icon. However, for any person, depending on each and every one’s own knowledge, the icon can be a valued and valuable object. There is also this difference in looking that comes from one’s deepening inside the faith or, on the contrary, from one’s distance from faith. Some sort of relation between complete and empty. When you look at an icon from within that kind of faith, that faith somehow generates a discourse in accordance to an entire system, meaning it connects to the Scripture, to the Tradition, to a long succession of histories and experiences that enlighten the icon. It is like shedding light on the icon from multiple angles. And these lights are absent to the ones who don’t have access to the Christian faith. cb: How do we recognize an icon? What makes a painted object an icon? Is it already consecrated when the painter finishes it, and can it be worshipped just as soon? cc: An image that represents a saint is already an icon through the sheer representation of saint. So, the wood painted with an image of a saint is already an icon. However, what makes the icon a spiritual focus is the consecration service. Practically, the icon becomes an icon entirely when it is consecrated and afterwards bestowed in someone’s home, in a church, in a monastery cell, in a skete, anywhere. cb: Can the icon also become an undecipherable sign to the contemporary world? If I can no longer recognize the saint from the icon based on his symbols and if I no longer decipher the Cyrillic letters that accompany the saint’s image, I look at the icon and simply don’t know what it’s about. Could there be a sign that even I, as a Christian, could no longer understand? cc: Reading the icon largely depends on the beholder’s iconographic culture. The icon can be read on several levels. Firstly, it may be understood as a sheer representation of the written. Furtherly, we may also acquire a theological reading. And, finally, as an icon-maker myself, I notice a structural level of reading – because any iconographic storytelling, as any image, possesses a certain structure. This structure is, in fact, supporting the theological meaning of the icon. Through reduction, we find this structure to be a

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