Sunday, November 29, 2009
Hail the Icon Painters
Hail the Icon Painters, and there seem to be plenty of them. At the direction of the local priests, I've lodged with them many times now and have enjoyed every experience. They're always a happy, peaceful group. Mostly, they work in teams of 6 or 7 painters, remarkably young, generally, and take years to paint the interior of a single church. Styles vary... at one place, I was surprised at the number of chickens running about the churchyard until I was shown how they laboriously grind minerals and mix them with eggs to apply as a vibrant paint of incredible durability. Others use ready-made paints from small plastic containers. Some styles the standard religious figures in bold cartoonish ways, others in muted ancient tones. There have been countless churches refurbished since the independence of the nation almost 20 years ago and each gets it walls and dome interior painted as a matter of course. It's beautiful to see complete, but I've immensely enjoyed seeing the work in progress. The icon painters proudly take me up the [non-OSHA-approved] scaffolding and explain the details and inspiration of their subjects. The themes may be repeated from one church to another, but the intensity of the individual artist is expressed when the artist shows it off. This wonderful way of traveling, but foot, slowly through the hospitable land, has given me these grand opportunities to be part of the prosperous regrowth of this country. Way cool.