Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Secular persons, sacred method

Fotis Varthis has painted some popular sci-fi/fantasy characters iconographically (Link from Zelda, Chewbacca from Star Wars, etc.) in a gallery he calls "The Byzantine Series." He explains it thus:

"Byzantine painting is a language as any kind of art and it doesn't necessarily express a religious statement. For me this concept of illustrating known -fantasy- characters in Byzantine way began as a mistake when I was trying to draw a prophet and the face reminded me of Saruman! Then I thought that it would be fun to try to depict a variety of characters in that way and I will continue this project as long as it goes. Nothing to do with Orthodoxy or any other religion though."
Having posted similar convergences of the sacred with the everyday, I can say with some experience that people will pitch a tent in one of three camps.
  • The first encampment will say, "Glory to God! Maybe some people will see these images, get interested in icons, and find the Church!"
  • The second canton will remark, "How dare he use 'windows into heaven' to show us the profane! Icons are prayer and this is blasphemous! Why are you even posting this?!"
  • The third group will look over the pictures and say, "Cool," then share this post on Facebook.
What say you?

Eddard Stark, Game of Thrones


  1. I'd fall into camp #2, although maybe not as stridently as your example. There's some deep theology as to why icons are written the way they are, and I think it's unfortunate to water it down to just another artistic style.

    Are you familiar with the icons of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane http://fineartamerica.com/featured/saint-john-coltrane-enthroned-mark-dukes.html

    1. Yes, indeedy. I've been rather outspoken on the topic of icons and the non-Orthodox.






    2. The difference with John Coltrane is that the church thinks it is a form of Orthodoxy. It's called the African Orthodox Church of St. John Coltrane, although it's bishop is actually Anglican.

    3. One of its "archbishops" places "O.S.B." after his name, clearly plunking himself into a Catholicism-related worldview. (which works for some Episcopalian/Anglican people)

      As a priest-friend of mine noted, "Orthodox Church" is not, and cannot be, copyrighted. Anybody is free, legally, to do business under that name.

  2. Bad-quality art (if referring to traditional -- as in authorized -- iconographic style).

    Blasphemous (imo) content.

    I would say that it fits right in with the modern, weak-willed conscience that strives to make God "fit right in with the world."

  3. These are sincere questions. Is it blasphemous if there are no halos, mandorlas, gold, etc. representing the imbued grace of God and/or sanctification? Doesn't iconography originate from a secular art tradition? Are there earlier images in an iconographic-ish style portraying myths or legends?

  4. I think this mostly deserves an eye roll.