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Lecture title: Visions of Salvation

A presentation of the the four most common motif groups in Byzantine iconography; depictions of Christ, The Mother of God, Saints and Festival icons.

The iconographer Solrunn Nes

Date:  Monday, Sept. 12, 7:30 PM

Place: Marmion Academy — Koch Theater
1000 Butterfield Rd.
Aurora, IL 60504-9742
Phone: 630-897-6936
Fax: 630-897-7086

Directions: 

Take I-88 toward AURORA - 
Take the NORTH FARNSWORTH AVE exit onto N FARNSWORTH AVE – go 1.2 mi Turn left on BUTTERFIELD RD[IL-56] – go 0.7 mi
Arrive at 1000 BUTTERFIELD RD, AURORA

SOLRUNN NES has represented the authentic tradition of Christian sacred art for two decades in the west.  The essence of that tradition is best expressed in the words of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 A.D.), which stated:

The making of icons was not the creation of the painters, but an
accepted institution and tradition within the universal Church…
The idea and tradition came from the fathers, not from the painters. 
Only the art belongs to the painter, whereas the form without doubt
comes from the fathers, who founded the Church.

In other words, the common classical heritage of Christian iconography is embedded in an objective tradition, one which is conventional, canonical, dogmatic, didactic, and liturgical.

Solrunn Nes, herself a western European and convert to Roman Catholicism, possesses a profound knowledge and love of Eastern Christianity, and can be recognized as a true representative of the tradition expressed preeminently at Nicaea II.  She studied icon painting in Finland with Father Robert de Caluwé (1983), and in Athens, at the Academy of Fine Arts under the supervision of Professor Konstantin Xinopoulos (1985), and has traveled extensively in Greece, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, Russia and Egypt. Highly regarded as an iconographer of considerable skill in western Europe, and especially in her native Norway, where she for several years lectured at the University of Bergen, she now works as a freelance iconographer, writer, and occasional lecturer.

All her icons are striking and luminous, recognizably her own, and yet fully in accord with the objective canonical tradition. Her work — which she classifies as New Byzantinism — reveals how one committed prayerfully to the latter can nonetheless produce art of obvious creativity.  Her icons are bright, spare, free of busy-ness and visual noise", and immediate to the beholder. The icon is an expression of her faith.  The tradition in which she paints is not concerned with the subjective perception of what is true, beautiful, and good.  On the contrary, the faith of the Church is expressed through certain formal norms and with clarity of objective definition of the good and the true: it comes from God and leads to God.  The highest compliment that can be paid her work is that it inspires one to pray and to conceive a desire for the True Beauty reflected there.

She has produced two books of interest to the art historian, theologian, and layman seeking a deeper understanding of iconography.  Her lavishly illusatrated The Mystical Language of Icons is an introduction that describes in admirable detail, yet with clarity and simplicity, the technique of draughting holy images.  She shows how Eastern Christian icons are not simply religious art, as has predominated in the west since the Renaissance (that is to say, they are not merely ²pictures² of religious scenes or biblical stories), but function as liturgical, dogmatic, venerable, and prayerful objects of sacred character.  Every page of The Mystical Language of Icons is itself a work of her own iconic art, and she takes us through page after page of iconographic motifs with enlightening explanations of each.

Her other book, The Uncreated Light, is a fascinating blend of theological insight and art history.  In it she traces the depiction of the Gospels¹ accounts of the Transfiguration of Christ, revealing the various and rich iconographic emphases that theological currents and controversies spanning roughly a thousand years drew out of the event.  Pages of relevant biblical and patristic quotations round out the work, showing a deft intertwining of theological knowledge, spiritual insight, art history, and a trained detective¹s mind that picks up the subtle clues for interpretation of each work of art under her scrutiny.