My Philosophy Behind Iconography

There are many ideas and philosophies about iconography in our modern world. This post shares my personal thoughts on this subject.

February 22, 2024

The icon is the revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven in our material world.

It has its own iconographic space. Four dimensions – length, height, depth and time - can characterize this space.

An iconographic image is a realistic image. This is not, of course, the kind of “realism” of Renaissance painters, but rather a symbolic realism. The Icon reveals the ultimate truth about God and man. To portray the Truth about a subject – is the goal of all real art.

There is a connection and a difference between painting and iconography. A good painter seeks the truth about the created world; an iconographer shows the truth about the Creator.

Iconography is the art of arts, and an icon is more a work of art than of craftsmanship. Even though every iconographer needs to respect many rules, it is not enough to merely follow the steps from the manual in order to paint an icon. One may get only a copy of an old sample, but it is not yet an icon. I don’t mean to say that we should leave aside the iconographer’s manual, but let us put everything in its proper place.

At the same time, we cannot reduce an icon to the level of artifact only. An icon is much more, that is why an icon cannot live its whole life in a museum or in an art gallery. Only in prayer can an icon fulfill its purpose. Which is why an iconographer must be personally involved in church life.

It simply isn’t enough to repeat several times “Lord, have mercy”, a person has to devote his whole life to the Church. Iconography is a church service, and an iconographer is a servant, that is why knowledge of dogmatics, liturgics and church history is required, along with strong artistic skills.

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