31 August 2013

Visiting an icon exhibition in
the Fortezza in Rethymnon

The Icon Painting Exhibition in the Artillery Hall in the Fortezza is part of the 26th Renaissance Festival of Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

Before the mid-day sun became too hot, I climbed the narrow streets and hills of the hill town of Rethymnon this morning to the old Venetian Fortezza that looms high above the town.

I have been there many times before, but today I wanted to see an exhibition of icons that is being staged as part of the 26th Renaissance Festival of Rethymnon this year, before it comes to a close tomorrow.

The exhibition is being staged in the Artillery Hall, close to the entrance to the Fortezza, and this is the second year an exhibition like this has been organised as part of the festival.

About 30 icon writers or painters are taking part in this exhibition, some of them well-known in Greece, but at least two remain anonymous, exhibiting simply as a member of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration and as a member of the Holy Monastery of Saint Irene, while George and Christopher Karaviotis give each other equal credit for their works. There is also once icon on loan from the Byzantine Art Centre in Rethymnon, which I visited last night.

But many are neither priests nor monks, and there are some woman among the exhibitors, including Eleftheria Syrianoglou, who is exhibiting a number of “table icons” worked in on various shapes of olive wood.

Emmanuel Nikolidakis works his three icons – including the Holy Four Martyrs of Rethymnon – on glass, and then frames them against a red background so they can be seen distinctly. George Christides has three large modern interpretations of traditional themes: the Lamentation at the Burial of Christ, the Annunciation, and the Angel of the Apocalypse.

The Sea gives up its Dead ... an icon in the exhibition in the exhibition in the Fortezza (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

There are new interpretation of the images from Fayum, which tell us a lot about the early development of icon painting, an amusing image of the “Sea gives up its Dead” ... although the artist is not listed in the catalogue.

This is an exciting collection of works seeking to maintain, develop and reinterpret a tradition religious art form.

The exhibition has been sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Diocese of Rethymnon and the Municipality of Rethymnon.

Last year’s exhibition was visited by Patriarch Bartholomeos, and the Metropolitan or Bishop of Rethymnon, Metropolitan Evgenios, who voiced their hope then that this exhibition would become an annual event.

After a further walk around the Fortezza, we stopped briefly in the shop, where there is an interesting collection of modern icons on sale.

We climbed back down through the side streets and alleyways and had lunch in Sarlo on Palaiologou street before heading down to the municipal beach for a swim in the sunshine and a walk along the shore.

At the harbour in Rethymnon this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

No comments: