Icon gift to the Library – St. Thomas Libraries Blog
Archbishop Ireland Library, News & Events

Icon gift to the Library

Friday’s UST Bulletin announced the generous gift and installation of a large icon in Ireland Library, carved and painted by the well-known Romanian artist, Marian Zidaru.

We invite you to come over to Ireland Library on the South Campus to view this impressive work! Installed in the stairway to the upper tiers, this 6-foot icon dominates the space with its beauty and grandeur. Those familiar with the highly evolved but extremely conservative Orthodox icon tradition will note the “innovations” that Zidaru has added to this common type of Christ icon. These are not easy to see in the small Bulletin photo, so a larger image appears below.

This icon, while painted in the Neo-Byzantine style, immediately strikes the viewer with its surprisingly non-traditional aspects: the bare wood background surrounding the central image; the Romanian word cer (heaven) carved over and over again into this wood; the paint for the image itself applied on bas-relief, a radical departure from the fully painted plane of regular icons. Also note Christ’s brilliant white robe, a depiction usually reserved in the tradition for the Transfiguration and Resurrection. This Google page of images provides a sampling of theses popular types.

Icon01 011cropped This icon type in its thousand-year tradition, always shows the Gospel (open to a passage or closed in finality) resting on Christ’s lap, but Zidaru transforms this all-important element into a book, yes, but open to one word aggresively repeated twenty times, cuvant, that is, word or speech.

While consciously set off against Orthodox iconography, Zidaru’s work resonates with an immediate, intense religiosity. This spiritual artistry seems, on the one hand, sensitive to iconographic tradition and, on the other hand, asserting the artist’s individuality (a trait at odds with the spirit of icon painting). Thus this work is impressively modern and in its eccentric treatment of ancient themes very appealing.

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