11 months ago


A Glimpse towards the

A Glimpse towards the Inside (interview) | 151 writing as well. cb: Could we also speak – following the same idea – of a contemporary icon, constructed only out of lines and yet, that could also aid me into recomposing the pattern of the Byzantine icon? cc: Yes, we could. I myself have tried to do so in a project entitled Theolographies. Signatures, signs, seedings (Teolografii. Semnături, semne, semănături), which I exhibited in 2013. I then tried to reduce the icon to its structure, starting from its constitutive elements. If we look carefully, the icons have several simple forms which compose the story. For instance, there is a form for the saints’ humbleness. Holy characters are represented in a certain posture. This form of humbleness is a tense curve, similar to a crook. I like naming these forms – these humble men from the icons – as the Lord’s crooks. Furthermore, the icons have a dynamic element. Someone, within each iconographic scene, is moving – be it either a saint, or the action of the biblical story itself. Then, we also have a lineage of balance, where the horizontal line meets the vertical line. This generally is – in my vision – the representation of Christ. If we were to summarize the scenes from the Passion of the Christ, in each of these scenes Christ will be the Cross, as in the encounter of the horizontal and the vertical. All these structural elements are essential parts of an iconographic or theolographic speak. They are “-graphies” that somehow encapsulate the theology of the icon. cb: Is there a need for the icon today? cc: There continues to be great need for icons nowadays as well, because ourselves, as Christians, desire to continue being as such: Christians. And being a Christian means, in brief, to be a living icon yourself. It is a hardship as well – being a living icon is a hardship that every iconographer and every man undertake, in their own measure and manner. cb: To an unadvised reader of the icon, could the diversity in representations of the same religious character be an obstacle? Being able to represent Virgin Mary, Mother of God in many ways and in diverse references and gestures towards Child Jesus; appealing to a diverse suite of variations when representing a certain saint – could this create confusion or, on the contrary, is it a way to enrich the representation? cc: We, as natural beings, experience things in different manners. We own an abundance of gestures when relating to things. Continuing this thought, it is only natural that all representations of our saints to be diverse, because all their stories are different as well: the way in which they lived, the ways in which they carried their own cross as Christians are very different. Byzantine iconography is highly varied and perhaps it is better so, because a certain posture can communicate more than another. For instance, Mother of God in the icon of “Sweet Kissing” can speak to beholders so much more than the classic representation of her solemnly keeping Child Jesus in her arms. cb: Your paintings for the Enlightened cycle, how were they born? cc: My work in the studio encountered a specific moment in which things took a very pleasant shift – I notice retrospectively – a shift which gladdens me. The moment in which the objects were no longer static things, but became chosen vessel; the moment when people were no longer in their natural stance, but attempted to become something more. This is how the Enlightened series began – ‘enlightened’ refers to the beings who exit common obscurity and place themselves in the light. What does enlightened mean? The one who comes into the light. The one who comes into sight. The one discovered. Naked. Divided. Or the one who enters the divine light. The one who is purified. Who renews himself. The one who resurrects. The one who covers himself in light as with a garment. Then, the landscapes were born – I later named them apostolic – for they, also, as landscapes, connect to man, to his existence, to the meaning of his existence; thus, out of ordinary landscapes, they became apostolic ones, in which divine beauty exists. I also wanted them to speak more about man’s own relation to the divine beauty of nature. At a certain point, I wanted to invest all the classic themes with a Christian meaning, pointing out at the same time how we forget the belonging of all these to what is true, good and beautiful in the world. cb: Do you regard these paintings as icons? cc: This is a good question. I often think about this. My work in the studio is somehow at the border of the icon. I cannot take the icon, interpret it and modify it on the inside, but I can take the iconic words of the Holy Fathers, somehow understand them in my own way and then look for an original representation. That does not mean that I’m illustrating the words of the Holy Fathers, no, on the contrary. An unsought freedom naturally came... cb: What kinds of icons have you painted? cc: In my work at the studio, I have a constant preoccupation for areas in the proximity of the icon. Even when I’m working on a specific icon, although I try to keep it canonical and within the limits of recognisable, I also struggle to give it a new meaning. For example, I maintained the Image of Christ represented as in the Veil of Veronica, but I gave it the illustration of the face Christ from the moment of the Transfiguration, entirely white. Another example: I painted the icon of Christ as defined by king Abgar when he sent his ambassador to Lord Jesus, asking him: “Please make Your Face as a shadow of Him Who makes miracles”. And I tried to paint this icon of Christ as a shadow inside of which the Image appears revealed. Hence, I speak of two things: defining the icon as shadow and the revelation of the Image, the incarnation of the Image, of how the Image appeared and lived among us. Of how the icon walked among us, in flesh. I earlier mentioned working at the border of the icon and how during work in the studio several themes occurred to me, such as: robing in the light, a theme often found in the writings of the Fathers. It is even mentioned in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Being robed in Christ during the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Thus, I tried to produce an image that no only illustrated, but revealed this meaning of man robing in the light – for Christ is Light. Man robing in light robes himself, in fact, in Christ. Furthermore, I continued to illustrate this theme of robing through the robing of the humble one – with the sacrificial robing of man, in general. Christ died for us and he covers us all in His sacrifice. The starting model for the sacrificial robing was a piece by 15 th century Italian painter Stefano di Giovanni di Consolo, known as Sassetta, a piece on Saint Martin sharing his garment with a pauper. Starting from this image of the pauper covered by Saint Martin, I created an entire series of metaphor-paintings who can give meaning to man’s existence. Seeing them, the beholder can understand which should be the natural course of his existence. cb: Let us talk about your profile as an iconographer. When did you start painting icons and in what circumstances? cc: (stays silent) Once, during childhood, I experienced something very important to me as human: as I was little, very little, inside the church I heard a voice and didn’t know

152 | Cristina Bogdan in dialogue with painter Constantin Cioc Prosopon 1, pencil drawings on paper (February 2017). Prosopon 2, pencil drawings on paper (February 2017). where it came from. Practically, I felt the first moment of mystery and of religious emotion back then, in a church. I though the voice I heard was the voice of God himself – I didn’t notice there was a priest officiating the service. I did not have the image of a priest officiating a service, to me what I heard in that church was the voice of God. Much later, after experiencing an – let us say “un-Christian” phase, I returned to Church and rediscovered the icon. And since I had already been studying painting, I started working on icons as well. Throughout my art studies, I painted my first icons on glass and my first icons on wood, as it was required for the painting techniques’ course. I enjoyed it a lot. While making icons on glass, I discovered icon calligraphy, icon writing – and then I understood that icons were not drawn, but designated, written. Icons are written. And maybe that was when I understood the definition of icon as a theological writing. Once I returned to the Church I painted icons occasionally, in several stages. Painting the icon always remained for me an inner preoccupation. I’ve always kept wondering how a renewal of the icon could be made possible, but at the same – or while at the same time I struggled to keep myself inside canon, for I do not wish to distract anyone with the novelty I attempt to propose. And, anyways, who possesses the measure of Rublev anymore, for him to be able to renew an icon? What kind of life does an iconographer need to live to be able to renew an icon? I continuously avoided to be very audacious. I tried to seek a rightful measure for the icon’s renewal. I am what I am – a Christian and a painter at the same time. Through my painting, I confess my own faith.

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