Voronet Sistine Chapel

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Tucked in the small village of Voroneț, Romania, you can find the great Romanian Orthodox Voroneț Monastery, one of a string of “painted monasteries” in Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, built mostly in the 15th and 16th centuries. Voroneț Monastery specifically was built in 1488 over a period of 3 months and 3 weeks (!), and is dedicated to St. George. The monastery was abandoned around 1775 due to political instability, and a monastic community didn’t return until more than two hundred years later in 1991. The building is famous for its beautiful frescoes and icons, both inside and out, which is how it got its nickname as the “Sistine Chapel of the East.”

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The frescoes at Voroneț feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as “Voroneț blue”. “The exterior walls — including a representation of the Last Judgment on the west wall — were painted in 1547 with a background of vivid cerulean blue. This blue is so vibrant that art historians refer to Voroneț blue the same way they do Titian red. Monastery of Voronet has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO.  Below are some great photos of the beautiful sacred building. Enjoy!

voronet-blue2Remus Pereni, Flickrglobetrotter_rodrigo, Flickrglobetrotter_rodrigo, FlickrJoergsam, Wikipediaglobetrotter_rodrigo, Flickrglobetrotter_rodrigo, FlickrAdam Jones Adam63, WikipediaIone.pomana, WikipediaGroundhopping Merseburg, FlickrSîmbotin, WikipediaGroundhopping Merseburg, Flickr

Watch “Monastery Voroneţ” documentary at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1buejr72eY

voronet-blue10Groundhopping Merseburg, FlickrGroundhopping Merseburg, Flickr

Source: “The Sistine Chapel of the East”: Romania’s Beautiful Voroneț Monastery http://www.churchpop.com/2015/10/06/the-sistine-chapel-of-the-east-romanias-monastery/

 

St. Petersburg’s Jaw-Dropping Wonder

Ana Paula Hirama, Flickr

Al and Marie, Flickr

You know the Sistine Chapel and the Notre Dame in Paris, but do you know the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood? Because it’s one of the most beautiful churches in the whole world. Located in St. Petersburg, Russia, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is a Russian Orthodox church that was built in the late 19th century under the direction of the Russian imperial family. It is built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally injured in March of 1881. It is full of bright colors, twisting spires, and floor to ceiling icons.

Here’s what it looks like on the outside:NoPlayerUfa, Wikipedia

And if you walk inside and look up, here’s what you see:

Saint-Petersburg orthodox theological academy, Flickr

See what I mean about being jaw-droppingly beautiful??

And yes, this place really exists.

Unfortunately, it is not used as a full-time church. During the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the church was looted and damaged. The Soviet government closed the church in the 1930s. It suffered further damage during WWII.

Since 1970s, it has been used as a museum, even after a major restoration of the church in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s.

But it can still inspire people’s faith with its beauty!

Here are more pictures of both the exterior and interior. Enjoy!

Saint-Petersburg orthodox theological academy, Flickr
Saint-Petersburg orthodox theological academy, Flickr
Ana Paula Hirama, Flickr
Justin Kaplan, Flickr
grizzlee9129, Flickr
Saint-Petersburg orthodox theological academy, Flickr
Saint-Petersburg orthodox theological academy, Flickr
Saint-Petersburg orthodox theological academy, Flickr
Ana Paula Hirama, Flickr
jaime.silva, Flickr
Diego Sáez Contreras, Flickr

Source: http://www.churchpop.com/2015/09/02/the-jaw-dropping-wonder-of-st-petersburg-the-church-of-the-savior-on-spilled-blood/

Through the Eyes of a Child

 “The quiet art of Helen Cherkasova seems simple at first sight – simple even to the naivete. And for much it is true if we imply by naivete pure natural sources and the belief in the clear divine spring of any real creative act.  As usual, dimensions of her works are not great. Nevertheless, some of them bear evident epic traits that are inherent to such monumental arts as mosaic or fresco.” (William Meiland, March, 1998)

Helena Cherkasova was born in Moscow in 1962. Finished art school in Moscow. Painted icons for orthodox churches. Now she paints by oil landscapes, still lifes and compositions mainly with religious topics. Participant of exhibitions in Russia and abroad. Lives and works in Moscow.

Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem

Nativity

Blessedness of the meek

Wise virgins

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Psalm 127

Prayer for rain

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Angel speaks to the myrrh-bearin women

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A monk

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Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem
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the Tsar’s family

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Letters of St. John Chrysostom to Olimpiada
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Prophet’s Eliah’s day

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St. Seraphim of Sarov

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Prince Igor’s murder

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A bird from Heaven

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The righteous soul enters Heaven

Matushki and cats

Matushki and cats

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“103rd Psalm”

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“Eleazar and Rebekah”

( the Old Testament story of the marriage of Isaac)

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“Song of Songs”

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Annunciation

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“Teens in the furnace” Daniel

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“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God!”  “Psalm 41”

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“Nativity”

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“The Holy Family”

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“Marriage at Cana”

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Another option of the marriage at Cana

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Healing the Demoniac of the Gadarene

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“Healing the Blind”

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“The storm on the lake”(Mk . 4 , 35-41 )

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Doubting Thomas ( Jn. 20 , 24-29 )

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“Adam and Eve in paradise again”

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Way of the Cross

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The Resurrection of Christ

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Last (Final) Judgment — Day of Judgment

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The entry of a righteous soul in paradise

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The Holy Spirit – a timid bird

Photos by Michael Moiseev
Source: Pramvir

Gateway to Heaven

 St Nicholas Cathedral

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Standing in the Cathedral after Sunday Liturgy on August 12, 2012. In addition to its magnificent and historic iconography, completed in the 1990s following the dissolution of the USSR, the Cathedral houses the relics of many saints, including St John of Kronstadt, St Elizabeth the New Martyr, St Herman, apostle to Alaska, St Innocent, metropolitan of Moscow and apostle to Alaska, St Tikhon, and St Daniel of Moscow.

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Gazing up at the dome with the image of Christos Pantokrator (Christ as Ruler of All, or Lord of the Universe) offering all worshipers His benediction.

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The choir gallery overlooking the nave, with beautiful frescoes of the Russian New Martyrs on the left and right as well as many of the North American saints. Note the magnificent fresco of Christ’s Resurrection on the wall hanging over the gallery as well as the ceiling icons of the Great Feasts of the Dormition of the Theotokos (L) and that of Pentecost, the Decent of the Holy Spirit (R). Symbolizing the triumphant restoration of Orthodoxy in Russian life, the fresco of Moscow’s rebuilt Christ the Savior Cathedral – initially demolished under Stalin’s orders in 1931- crowns the beautiful choir gallery.

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The four writers of the Gospels are depicted on the pendentives supporting the dome. Higher up, closer to Christ, are depicted the cherubim and seraphim and other angelic powers of heaven. The red fire symbolizes the Holy Spirit descending to and filling the earth.

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The frescoed icons on the Cathedral’s north wall depict the life and deeds of St Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra (located in modern day Turkey), and patron saint of Greece, Russia, and many ancient cities. Can you find the picture of the saint rescuing a drowning man?

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A reliquary of St Herman of Alaska (1756-1837), patron saint of Orthodoxy in the Americas and peaceful evangelist to many native Alaskan tribes.

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Relics of the Romanov Imperial Family of Russia, who were murdered on Lenin’s others on July 17, 1918: the Emperor or Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich II, his consort the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their children. Orthodox Christians venerate them as “Passion-bearers” who graciously and courageously bore many sufferings and imprisonment and went to their deaths with great fortitude.

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Relic of Saint Sergius, fourteenth century Wonder-worker and deeply beloved Russian saint (d. 1392).

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Looking toward the iconostasis and the apse above the altar. Along with most of the interior fresco work, after the fall of the Soviet Union expert Russian iconographers completed the beautiful iconostasis (icon stand) which separates the altar area from the main part of the Cathedral. This evokes the Temple at Jerusalem which had a ‘holy of holies’ in which the Tabernacle was kept.

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Relics of many ancient and new Russian saints, including St Elizabeth the New Martyr (front right).
Saint Elizabeth (1864 – 1918) was the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, fifth son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Empress Maria Alexandrovna (born Princess Dagmar of Denmark, she was the sister to Alexandra who became Queen of the United Kingdom as consort to Edward VII). Princess Elizabeth and her sister Alix, who in 1894 became the wife of the new Russian Emperor Nicholas II as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, were granddaughters of Britain’s Queen Victoria.
After an anarchist assassinated her husband, Grand Duchess Elizabeth visited the man, offering him her forgiveness, but he refused her offer to intercede with her brother-in-law for a reprieve from execution. She went on to found a convent dedicated to ministering to Moscow’s poor, and as part of her efforts she petitioned the Russian Church to restore the historic female diaconate. She opened the Martha and Mary Home in Moscow to utilize the prayer and charity of devout Russian women. For many years she helped the poor and orphans through this Moscow home.
In 1918, the Communist government exiled her to Yekaterinburg and then to Alapaevsk, where she and several other members of the Imperial Family were violently killed by the local Bolsheviks on July 18, 1918. She was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and by the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole in 1992 as New-Martyr Elizabeth.

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Reliquary of the Great Martyr Saint Catherine of Alexandria (287-305), an Egyptian princess and scholar whose erudition and learned arguments inspired the conversion of thousands. She was brutally put to death on the orders of the pagan Roman Emperor Maxentius, whom Constantine defeated in October 312 at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge outside Rome. In the fifteenth century another virgin saint, the young Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) received visions of St. Catherine exhorting her to drive the English out of France.

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Fragrant double icon depicting two pillars of the Orthodox faith in Russia. Saint John of Kronstadt (1829-1908), shown offering the Communion chalice and a benediction, is one of the most beloved Russian saints to whom thousands would come seeking his ascetic and pastoral advice. He wrote widely on many topics, especially on the profound existential need to cultivate transcendent Christian love and forgiveness.
He is shown with Saint Matrona of Moscow (1885-1952) because when he saw her as a young, blind girl in a crowd, he predicted she would be his spiritual successor. Blessed Matrona healed many people of their spiritual diseases and predicted numerous marriages, events and deaths- including her own.

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Standing in the choir, looking toward the iconostasis and the apse icon of the Panagia Theotokos (All-Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary). The elaborate chandelier, lit at various points of the divine offices, symbolizes the eternal presence of God’s grace in His Church, the radiance of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the abiding light of the Holy Spirit.

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Gazing down over the nave from the choir gallery. Approaching the central icon stand before the iconostasis, worshipers first venerate the cathedral’s principal icon of the holy person or God. Upon entering any Orthodox church, worshipers bow before the divine presence in the altar where the Eucharist is offered as the mystical transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord.

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Standing in the lofted gallery where I sing with the choir. This is one of my favorite pictures of the Cathedral interior because one really has a strong sense of the iconography- the ‘image writing’, as the term means from the Greek- as a powerful tool for the theological education of the faithful who see and comprehend the many magnificent images depicting the saints.

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Centered shot of the dome and its supporting columns and pendentives.

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The Cathedral shining in the late summer sunshine! Russian and American architects designed the Cathedral to evoke a twelfth century church in Vladimir, an ancient Russian city on the Klyazma River some 200 km (120 miles) east of Moscow. In 1988 the bell tower was erected as a gift from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Cathedral commemorating the one thousandth anniversary of the conversion of St. Prince Vladimir of Kiev and his people to Eastern Christianity.

Archangel Ethiopian Manuscript

A selection of folios from an illuminated manuscript of 17th century Ethiopia, produced during the cultural boom, especially in painting, brought about by the establishment of a permanent court at Gondar by the Solomonic emperor Fasilädäs (who reigned 1632-67). The nearly 50 full-page illuminations of this particular manuscript tell the story of the Archangel Michael who, under the patronage of Emperor Zär’a Ya’eqob, had became the most venerated of all archangels in Ethiopia. He is depicted undertaking a vast host of miracles and heroic feats including saving the faithful from the burning flames of hell, healing the sick and treading on Satan. The illustrations can also teach us about the Ethiopia of the time. According to The Walters Art Museum, “the minutely rendered textiles in these pictures suggest a connection with the fashions of the Gondarine court and indicate that the painters depicted their scriptural subjects using a visual language rooted in contemporary culture.”

Left – Above: How Astaraniqos slept on his bed using the picture of St. Michael as a pillow; Below: How a blacksmith toiled in making a panel for the picture of St. Michael. Right – Above: How Satan flew away like a raven/crow when Euphemia showed him the picture of St. Michael; Below: How Satan came (again) looking like four women and St. Michael trod on him.
Left – St. Michael rescues the faithful from the flames of Hell. Right – The Faithful Rescued by Saint Michael in Paradise.
The Archangel helping Hezekiah of Judah defeat Sennacherib of Assyria.
The Archangel paying tribute to Adam.
The Archangel casting an evil spirit from his church.
The Archangel healing a sick woman.
The Archangel helping seafarers.
The Archangel healing a Jew.
The Archangel helping Susanna preserve her purity.
The Archangel rescuing the Three Holy Children.
The story of Qison continues.
The Archangel rescuing the child from drowning.

Source: The Public Domain Review

Romanian Matrix

4_Elena Murariu, +ÿtefan cel Mare SONY DSC

 

Toma Chituc and Mihai Coman, two iconographers in the Romanian icon renewal.

I. Iconography, a recovered artistic language 

It would have been impossible to imagine a public conversation on icons and their veneration a quarter of a century ago in communist Romania. (…) However, in the last 25 years that have elapsed since the anti-communist revolutions in Eastern Europe, changes have been impressive. (…) In the aftermath of the atheist regime, religious life has revived in all its dimensions: art, liturgy, parish life and monastic communities. There are new parish churches, new monasteries, new canonized saints as well as new Christian martyrs of the communist persecution receiving a large popular veneration and waiting to be canonized. In this context, the icon has become a common presence in homes and offices.

Ioan Popa working on his icon of the

The most remarkable aspect of this revival is that the abundant iconographic demand and the high number of skilled iconographers gave rise to a competitive ambiance that led to an obvious advance in the quality of iconography and, subsequently, to a new iconographic movement.

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Our interest focuses on these latter artists who have reached an advanced aptitude of mastering the painting of icons and frescos. Socially, they are also the most visible category, knowing how to promote their creation, how to set up events and integrate their art in the larger cultural and artistic phenomenon. Their personalities are complex: in addition to working in the studio or on the scaffold, they organize symposia, open exhibitions and workshops, invite colleagues from the country and abroad, some of them teach religious art and, generally, they bring iconography to the public attention. One may observe that, over the past five to ten years, the phenomenon has become more alive and has configured a group of iconographers and church painters who are not only talented artists but also curators, theorists and project managers. Furthermore, one of the most significant aspects is that a few artistic values have been gradually assumed by the most valuable iconographers:

1. A thorough education in classical art. ( …)

2. A personal spiritual life. All of them assume, with the Orthodox tradition, that a spiritual dimension is a necessary ingredient to painting an icon. Painting an icon is not a mere artistic activity but a facet of the larger spiritual growth, both personal and part of the community in which the iconographer lives. Painting an icon, therefore, becomes a way of expressing their creativity, a spiritual search in a direct continuity with their ancestral Orthodox legacy and a way of life to which they dedicate themselves entirely. Thus, they strive to understand the icon in a theological manner, as a sacred image, and to address it from a spiritual angle. There are a few cases in which the artists even chose the monastic life; and icon painting became their main obedience in the monastery.

3. They do not imitate but innovate within the canons of tradition. (…)

II. Some iconographers and their work

Gregore Popescu. He is the oldest among the Romanian church painters and has the largest artistic oeuvre.

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Elena Murariu represents the middle generation. She worked as a fresco specialist who restored different mural assemblies of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries and subsequently commenced painting her own icons.

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Elena Murariu, Holy Brancovan (Brâncoveanu) Martyrs

Gabriel Toma Chituc. Also primarily educated as a classical painter, Chituc is an original and gifted iconographer with a special artistic expressivity. In the last decade, he has become a prolific iconographer striving to find the mystery of the authentic icon inspired by the Holy Spirit.

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Ioan Popa. Although he is only 38, Popa has already painted in the fresco technique two churches in Bucharest and Alba Iulia, the church of a monastery in the Apuseni Mountains as well as baptisteries and small chapels in Southern Italy, Cyprus and Mount Athos.

10_Ioan Popa, capela Spital G. Alexandrescu

11_SS Redentore Church, Manfredonia, Italiy,

12_Ioan Popa, ST. GEORGE

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14_Perete sudic, Alba Iulia

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Mihai Coman. He teaches church painting techniques at the Faculty of Theology in Bucharest and studied restoration in Romania. However, in what regards his skills of painting icons and frescos, Coman affirms that he “learned the technique on Mount Athos and understood the icon with the professor and painter Georgios Kordis,” whose doctoral student he is in Greece.

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Deacon Nicolae Bălan. After his studies in iconography at the Faculty of Theology in the Department of monumental art, he attended the Faculty of Fine Arts in order to improve his drawing and composition techniques. Bălan is a gifted draftsman and he painted the metropolitan chapel from Limours (France) and St. Trinity Church in Alba Iulia.

19_Balan Nicolae, biserica memorial¦ Alba Iulia

21_Balan Nicolae, cruce altar

20_Balan Nicolae, detaliu bolt¦ Alba Iulia

To these iconographers should be added many others, all of special talent and abundant production. We will mention here a few of them for a few particular reasons. First, some have composed new iconographic themes, like Răzvan Gâscă with his St. Maximus the Confessor with scenes from his life, painted to mark the presence of the relics of St. Maximus the Confessor to Iaşi in 2010.

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Likewise, Marius Ghinescu for his St. Pachomius at St. Dimitry of Rostov, which represents a moment in the life of Venerable Pachomius of Gledin (1674-1724), a Romanian hermit and bishop who spent his last years at the Pecerska Lavra in Kiev.

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Others should be mentioned for the original manner in which they reconceived certain classical themes, for example Daniela Toma Musat, St. M. George.

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Finally, we should mention some who are talented artist monks able to innovate within the canon, such as Mother Olga, St. Joachim and Anna, Monk Haralambie, The Venerable Founders of Monastery Vatopedi, and Monk Iacob, Mandylion.

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30_Ioan Popa_Iisus Vita de vie

31_Daniel Codrescu_Deisis cu Sf. Brancoveni

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The last example belongs to Sorin Dumitrescu, a talented metaphysical painter of the old generation converted into an inspired and charismatic theoretician of the icon as well as an original iconographer in spite of the smaller number of icons he has realised. While in his early career as an iconographer he filtered Palaeologan tradition in a personal manner, he searches his present sources of inspiration in the times which preceded iconoclastic controversy.

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With this we close our short excursion into contemporary Romanian iconography. The diversity of artists, styles, techniques, media and sources of inspiration unveils a fascinating artistic and spiritual phenomenon. It will be worth seeing in which direction Romanian iconography will evolve in the future.

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By 

Source: http://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/the-new-romanian-masters-innovative-iconography-in-the-matrix-of-tradition/