The term ‘ ancient icon painting’ refers to a specific style of art from the Eastern Orthodox religion and based on human beings as sacred. The word Icon in Greek means image. Iconography is the practice of painting sacred portraiture that represent human Saints, Apostles, the mother of Jesus and Jesus and biblical narratives. Narrative scenes include the Crucifixion, Pentecost, The Baptism in the Jordan, etc. Today, much of humanity grieves as we deplete and ravage the environment. I believe we can create a new vision for preservation of the Earth through modifying ancient icon painting.
Ancient Icon Painting, its value throughout History
In the Orthodox church, ancient icon painting was an indispensable tool to foster ones contemplation and prayer. The holy image allowed direct communication between the holy, mystical, historical personage portrayed and the viewer.
Iconography depicted a wide range of events, theologies, and holy persons, and was the foundation for spiritual awe and devotion. Cherished as sacred objects, icons had the power to heal, encourage, dispel wisdom, and inspire.
The “iconophiles” (literally “lovers of images”), also known as “iconodules” (literally “servants of images”), defended icon content. The iconophiles maintained that honoring the holy personages as divine representations was valuable and inspirational for believers. They were the policemen for this magnificent art form. Their posture, power, and influence preserved this tradition of ancient icon painting and also limited its growth.
Iconographers painted invisible concepts and doctrines and made them into a visual story form. They built an illustrated language around the church’s interpretation of scripture. I cannot think of any other art that claims to possess this sort of mysticism.
Focus on Love for Planet Earth with Icon Painting
I would like to design new contemporary icons to enshrine devotional practices associated with love for creation. Christians and all religions might bow down and kiss the Earth for all its magnificence and grandeur. It may be time to light candles and lamps, burn incense and say prayers on behalf of our environmental crisis. These acts of devotion directed at new icon painting could help reform our wasteful behavior and instill gratitude for what we did not create. Humanity is on the cusp of change or annihilation, as the consequences of our behavior can we can ignore no longer.
Reading new Contemporary Icons
Certain art, specifically sacred art, has a responsibility to be prophetic and ideological. Traditional ancient icon painting represented historical figures and Christian teaching in a manner that was recognizable and understandable. It represented a time in our human development. How hard would it be to use the iconography practice to create images that venerate our celestial home? To achieve this new devotion, icon painters would need to rely on archetypal imagery, metaphors, and visual conformity to enhance and promote a global message.
Consider how these elements work together in this late-fourteenth-century icon of Christ.
Christ appears with his conventional long brown hair and beard with a broad neck. The artist portrayed Christ in clothing from the ancient era in which he lived; Christ holds a Gospel book displaying his own words from Matthew 6:14–15; and there is a cross in Christ’s halo. The text identifies this as “Jesus Christ,” and additional title: “the Wisdom of God.” Together, all these elements enabled Byzantine viewers to recognize the figure who gazed out and blessed them. New iconography for a new age will have to include a similar set of elements.
The Function of Icons to Preserve the Earth
Theological ideas and their principal concerns have always been for raising humanity to a divine state. New icons will have to possess readable visuals. They might include the planet Earth, a title text or biblical reference, perhaps human hands and the color blue. I am talking about inventing and establishing a Heliography, which will direct a beam of divine light on creation without blurring the boundaries between religious and political ideology.
In the middle ages, the icon image functioned as “books for the illiterate.” Religious imagery appeared well before the age of the printing press. Few people could afford books, and many could not read. While they read aloud biblical passages in church services, icons offered visual depictions of biblical events on sanctuary walls.
We are Living On, and In, God’s Garden of Miracles called planet Earth.
Every creature has the power to reproduce itself in abundance. It is an exquisite sanctuary with lavish beauty. New contemporary icons could highlight and visually sanctify the idea we are all connected. Earth was given to the world’s population as a gift to be shared. New iconography can facilitate a face-to-face encounter between God’s own image of walking as a human and the garden given to us for abundant life.