Icon-painting heritage of four nations
About 100 works of art are presented in Minsk at the Orthodox World. The Image of Christ in the Iconography of Eastern Europe Countries exhibition
By Andrey Semenov
A unique exhibition — Orthodox World. The Image of Christ in the Iconography of Eastern Europe Countries — opened on September 18th at the National Art Museum in Minsk. It is dedicated to a significant event; the 1025th anniversary of the Christianisation of Kievan Rus, which the orthodox world celebrates this year. Its opening also coincides with another important anniversary for Belarus, namely the 35th anniversary of arch-flamen services of Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus.
The exposition presents about 100 works of art from the late 14th-early 19th century from collections of nine museums in four countries: Russia — the State Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Icon Museum (Moscow), Ukraine — the National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve (Kiev), Serbia — the National Museum in Belgrade, Belarus — the museum funds of the Ancient Belarusian Culture Department of the Centre of Research in Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Art Museum, the National Polotsk Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve and the Grodno State Museum of Religious History. The Church Historical Museum of Belarusian Orthodox Church created in May of this year in Minsk, donated divine service vestments, relics, and a number of items of personal devotion of the Metropolitan Filaret for display in this exhibition.
The exhibition is located in three halls. The icons placed in the first hall are devoted to Christ’s birth and his miracles. In the second hall there are icons which tell of Christ’s life leading to the crucifixion. The third hall contains icons depicting the faces of the Disciples and other followers of Christ.
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see such masterpieces of orthodox iconography as the 15th century Deesis (Deisis) Tier from the Tretyakov Gallery, the late 17th century piece Ascension of Jesus Christ from the National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve, The Transfiguration (circa 15-16th century) from the National Museum in Belgrade and the 1678 work of master Georgius — Christ Pantocrator from the collection of the National Art Museum of Belarus.
The purpose of this original cultural project is to display the originality and kinship of spiritual roots of the Orthodox Slavic people. The icon-painting heritage of these territorially close regions, with centuries-old history, is shown in a single space. Icons from different countries, for the first time shown together, embody of the idea of conciliarism of the Orthodox world, with the common thread, the image of Jesus Christ, to unite them.
According to Vladimir Prokoptsov, the Director General of the National Art Museum, a number of other activities will be held in the museum: Orthodox Church chants will be played, experts will discuss the role of Orthodox iconography in history and meetings with priests and art critics will take place. On 10th October, the 35th anniversary of arch-flamen services of Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus will also be celebrated here.