Tatiana Levina (NRU-HSE): The Radiation of Divine Light: Abstractionism in the Hesychast Icon
Room 417 of the Humanities building
All are welcome to attend! The talk, in English, will be followed by discussion and a reception. Those not affiliated with HSE Moscow should contact firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of time to request access to the building.
Abstract: The period of Byzantine art that sheds light on the issue of importance for us is the late period of the Palaeologus dynasty, called Palaeologus Renaissance of the 14th century. In the art of this period, the plastic means of expression were used to solve the problem of the non-created nature of the Divine Light, and theology (as well as in the preceding period of iconoclasm) played an important role in art. The style of the artists changes: while at the beginning of the 14th century many of the mosaics and frescoes were mimetic, picturesque, and lifelike, the style of the second half of the 14th century is no longer related to the world and the man. In the icon of the Transfiguration, art historian Lazarev sees the Byzantine prototypes of the Palaeologus era: “Christ seemingly floating in the air, in a white robe, his figure having the highest light-carrying power, shown in a halo with rays emanating from him”. As regards the solution of the artistic task, that is, to present the glow of the light of Tabor, which was one of the most popular themes of his time, Theophanes the Greek was “most interested in the expression of the silver radiance emitted by Christ, which is reflected in the rock-mound ledges, on the robes and in the faces”. The relationship between Byzantine icons and even abstract paintings with Palamite disputes of the 14th century has been pointed out by researchers on numerous occasions, so it seems absolutely necessary to present Gregory Palamas’ arguments. This will make it much clearer what ideas Byzantine painters had, what exactly they wanted to convey with artistic means.