Exhibition. Moscow.Russia


Friday 6 August 2010

until september 30th.

“Synaxis” is the name of an exhibition running at Moscow’s Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts from mid-July till the end of September. It invites you into the world of Orthodox icon painting of the 15th-20th centuries.

The exhibition had travelled 20 cities from Seoul to Lima before coming to Moscow, its 21st venue but so far the only one where icons of the Greek and Russian schools shared floor space. A total of more than 130 icons are on display, nearly three times more than at similar exhibitions in other cities. The Moscow event boasts icons from Greek and Russian museums and from private collections owned by Emilios Velimezis and the Alexander Onassis Foundation.

According to the Pushkin Museum’s Director Irina Antonova, the juxtaposition of the Russian and Greek schools of icon painting is something that makes the Synaxis show stand apart: "Greece is of special significance for Russia. A sense of some deep-rooted kindred with that country is typical of Russian culture and art. We always take the opportunity to exhibit something from Greek museums."

Both the Greek and Russian schools of icon painting evolved from the Byzantine canons. Alexander Styopina is the exhibition’s curator: "The icons on display illustrate the post-Byzantine tradition. It is topical for Russian visitors who will find it interesting to trace the parallel development of the two schools – Russian and Greek."

The project’s top manager Christos Margaritis believes the exhibition’s main message is dialogue of cultures. He said he was proud that his family and his uncle and collector Emilios Velimezis had contributed to promoting this dialogue: "The Velemezis collection was set up in the 30s of the past century and initially numbered 92 icons. Emilios Velimezis was my mother’s brother. He died at a very young age. My family presented some icons to the Benaki Museum. Like the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the Benaki Museum supports and gives much attention to private collections which eventually move into museums because great artworks do not belong to Margaritis or Velimezis, they belong to all of us." There is a striking difference in style between ancient icons and their 20th-century analogues. But it just proves one thing, namely that the art of icon painting is not dead or frozen in its canonical framework but lives on and develops.

PUSHKIN MUSEUM 12, Ulitsa Volkhonka, Moscow, 121019, Russia