Exhibition Sheds Light On Russian Icon Painting

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Friday 11 March 2011, by Icon Network

until june 2011

A new exhibition has opened at UT Art Museum that provides insight into the icon painting tradition of the Russian Old Believers in Estonia. In Orthodox tradition, icons are much more than religious paintings – they are sacred objects mysteriously linked to the Holy. The exhibition sheds light on the process of icon creation and is the first to introduce icon sketches from the Raja village workshop in the Lake Peipsi area.

Ikona, or the Russian icon, derives its name from the Greek eikon, meaning "image." In Eastern Christianity the icon is generally a flat-panel painting depicting a holy being or object - Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints, angels, or the cross. Icons may be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, done in mosaic, or even printed on paper or metal. However, the traditional Russian icon is painted with tempera paints on a prepared wooden panel using a surprisingly sophisticated technology.

The art of the icon came to Russia from Byzantium after conversion to Christianity in 988 A.D. The Russians modified this art in ways that reflected their own skills and character. Icon sketches spread, which helped not only to retain certain qualities and standards, but also to simplify the work and quicken the process of painting.

Icon Painting Is a Spiritual Experience The exhibition was notably composed by someone who creates icons herself and passes this knowledge on to children. "Icon painting gives you peace, a sense of contentment and self-fulfillment. At the same time you are not supposed to express your artistic creativity or emotions, as the tradition you are a part of is much bigger than you", shares Külli Valk – and you can see all this in her eyes. The exhibition will be open until mid June.

UT Art Museum:

More about Russian Old Believers in Estonia:

Inga Külmoja Senior Specialist for International Communication Phone: +372 737 6165


University of Tartu Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, ESTONIA Fax: +(372) 737 5440