IKONA is a collection of eleven contemporary icons with an aesthetic foundation in Byzantine icon painting.
With its roots in the distant, pre-Christian past, iconography has been refined over centuries. The art developed in the deserts of the Middle East, and was developed through the Roman and Byzantine imperial ages and later in Russia and Ukraine. In Byzantine theology, the contemplation of icons allowed direct communication with the sacred figure represented, and through icons, an individual’s prayers were addressed directly to the petitioned saint or holy figure.
While wood panel paintings are now most commonly associated with icons, during the Byzantine period icons were crafted in all sorts of media including ivory, marble, gemstone, ceramics, precious metals, enamel, textile and mosaic.
The icons are a permanent museum collection. The exhibition will run until 2022.
THE FORM AND FUNCTION OF ICONS
Icons ranged in size from the miniature to the monumental. Some were suspended around the neck as pendants, others (called triptychs) had panels on each side that could be opened and closed, thereby activating the icon. Portable icons could be mounted like a standard and carried into battle, or used in processions, while others were built into the very fabric of a building, in fresco or mosaic form.
In Byzantium, colour was considered to have the same substance as words, each colour had its own value and meaning. One or several colours combined together had the means to express ideas.
Iconoclasm literally means “image breaking” and refers to a recurring historical impulse to break or destroy images for religious or political reasons. For example, in ancient Egypt, the cartouches and images of some pharaohs were obliterated by their successors; while more recently the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban is also considered to be iconoclasm.
In the Byzantine world, Iconoclasm refers to a theological debate involving both the Byzantine church and state. During his reign in the eighth-century, Emperor Leo III called into question the use and veneration of images. Central to the debate was the issue of whether the devotion (proskynesis) to icons violated scriptural prohibitions against idolatry.