At first glance, the icons of Sofia Atlantova and Oleksandr Klymenko, artists from Kyiv – are a provocation, a bold challenge to tradition,” says Sergei Chapnin in the accompanying text. “They break with the typical imagery of iconography, not to outrage, but to show that an icon that breaks with tradition can be convincing. Phoniness is not in the substance, but in the eye of the beholder. It is precisely a perfect, richly decorated and finely written icon that might look wrong at a time when a terrible war has violated the daily lives of millions of people. Those who are wounded, are refugees, and have lost their loved ones, feel that all beauty has gone from their lives. In its place is horror, suffering and grief. But even in these days, God Himself, His All-Holy Mother, and all the Saints are near. Atlantova and Klymenko’s icons speak namely of this. The sacred images can be deduced even in roughly knocked together wooden covers with rusty hinges that until recently served the war. Ammo boxes lie in huge piles on battlefields, reminding us of the toll of war. But in the end, life will triumph over death. And an Orthodo icon is a living testimony of the Giver of Peace, of dialogue and connection with the One who died and rose again. The instrument of death was the cross, but it became a symbol of the triumph of life. Parts of empty ammo boxes could remind us of the instruments of death, but now they bear witness to peace, to the thirst for life and faith.”
Oleksiy Chekal continues the same thought: “War forces us to rethink the very idea of Christian art. We see that hiding behind the mechanical copying of ancient icons might be immoral artists who support Russia’s aggression. A sacred image, like any word of preaching, must be both contemporary and timeless. In it, suffering and love find each other. While working on the calendar, I pondered the words of Mother Maria Skobtsova: Either Christianity is fire, or else it doesn’t exist.
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