Contemporary Byzantine Icons:
Introduction &
The Original world-wide
Iconographers' Index-Imagebase
with Access to 7000 Images

Christ the Savior
Aidan Hart, UK
1. Index-Imagebase
The Painting of Byzantine Icons is very much alive today all over the world, from Russia to the Americas, from Sweden to Australia.
     (Contemporary) Byzantine Icons can be just as beautiful as their ancient counterparts. The icon of Christ the Savior (by Aidan Hart, England), shown to the left, and the icon of the Mother of God of the Sign (by Olga Kirichenko, Lithuania), shown further down, are two prime examples. A look at the Selection of (Contemporary) Icons will further convince you.
 About the Index-Imagebase The Iconographers' Index-Imagebase consists of 2 parts, an Index and an Imagebase "All-on-One" page.
     Part 1 - Index
With a few exceptions, the Index only lists iconographers (icon painters) who have a web presence. It lists them either by their individual last name or by the name of their studio or association. Icon painters make up abouty 94% of the Index, representatives 2% (note 2) and distributors 4% (note 3). Index entries can be sorted by 5 criteria indicated in the column headings.
     Some of the icon painters who are part of an association of some kind and don't have a web presence and thus aren't identifiable, are mentioned in a separate table listing Associations.
     It should be pointed out that not all icons shown in the Index-Imagebase have been 'Hand-painted in the Traditional Eastern Orthodox style', i.e. the iconographer may not have fully adhered to the Canon of the Orthodox Church. Experienced eyes can readily discern this. Less experienced eyes may discover it over time. Click the link that follows Detailed Explanation of 'Byzantine' and 'Byzantine Icon' to understand the importance of 'Hand-painted in the Traditional Eastern Orthodox style'. More about this in the section "Byzantine Icons" further down on this page.
     Part 2 - Imagebase
Clicking on an iconographer's name in the Index will take you to where he (she) is shown in the Imagebase. They are arranged alphabetically by icon painter last name (or studio name), by default, i.e. when loading or re-loading the page the alphabetical order will prevail or be restored. Click the Index-Imagebase link here or in the Page Menu above to retrieve it.
     Links to websites
In addition to displaying some 300+ icons (one for each entry / iconographer), the Index-Imagebase displays links to their websites which collectively hold more than 7000 images in about 35 different countries.
     Representatives (note 2) & Distributors (note 3)
Listed in the Index-Imagebase also, you will find representatives that sell iconographers' icons, or distributors that sell reproductions of either medieval or contemporary icons. For the most part these prints (reproductions) are glued
onto durable wood with a finish to preserve the images.

Attention : The Index-Imagebase is a large file, the largest of this website. When opening it, it will take some time for all images to load. The page and page-links will not need to be reloaded, however, because all links open in a new window. Thus you quickly return to it when closing the new window. Since Index and Imagebase are on the same page, in the same window, all of the time, navigating back and forth between Index and Imagebase is quick as well.

The Mother of God of the Sign. Olga Kirichenko, Lithuania. (Click these lines, then maximize new window.) Look at and in the eyes of the Holy Mother of God. Also notice how the artist made the Holy Virgin look like the young woman she was when she gave birth.
2. Byzantine Icons
 Hand - Painting Byzantine Icons Today
In the context of this web page as well as beyond it, 'Contemporary Byzantine Icons' is understood to comprise works of sacred art that have been hand-painted (written) in the Traditional Eastern Orthodox style. The icons are painted by individual iconographers (icon painters) under their own name, or under the name of a community, organization or school. Some iconographers wish to remain anonymous. Icons can be purchased directly from the iconographer, or from the iconographer's representative(s) (note 2). Smaller icons are usually delivered from stock while larger icons are mostly commissioned, i.e. custom made to order.

 Living Iconography Tradition terminated
When coming to the "Contemporary Byzantine Icons Page", which is where you are now, you probably have some idea of what "Byzantine Icons" are and what it entails to make them. If somehow you are not sure you do, you can read up on it on the following pages : What are Byzantine Icons? and Summary.
     In short, Hand-painting (writing) Icons in the Traditional Eastern Orthodox style implies obedience to the Canons of the Faith. The Canons (Greek word for "rules" or "measures") ensure that icons painted today have the same "external" (visual) and "internal" (spiritual) characteristics as icons painted in the 11th-15th centuries. In the years (decades or more) following the victory over the Iconoclasts in 843, the Orthodox Church laid down a set of rules to govern the painting of icons and frescoes : personnages and events, the media to paint on, the materials and tools to be used, etc. Among others, this was done to prevent creating conditions, at some time in the future, that could
precipitate new attacks by iconoclasts.
     However, over and above the 'physical' rules, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to entirely lay down with the written word the necessary spiritual dimension, i.e. what Vladimir Grigorenko calls "the (living) iconography tradition". The lifestyle, prayer, fasting and other elements that it comprised and had been transmitted within the faith from one generation to the next, from master to follower, from teacher to disciple, was no longer handed down.
     Says Vladimir Grigorenko (see Interview with Vladimir Grigorenko) : "It needs to be understood that in the post-communism world – after two world wars and several regional wars in Central and Eastern Europe – icon painting was no longer taught from one generation to the next. There no longer was an elder who knew and could teach the younger generation. The genuine (living) iconography tradition had been terminated. This doesn’t mean to say this happened because of communist’s pressure or regional wars. Rather, it was the result of a very long and gradual process which we just have no time to discuss here."
     Actually, in his article Iconographers of the Twentieth Century, Aidan Hart cites the growing decadence in icon painting in Greece, Russia and the Balkans as a major reason for the loss of the living iconography tradition (see Aidan Hart further down).
     While in these days (2006) we are seeing a strong revival of icon painting, not every iconographer will feel compelled to do as thorough a search for icon-painting guidelines as Vladimir Grigorenko. As a result, some icon painters may end up copying old icons while others may employ painting methods that are easy and quick.

 Byzantine Painting to be Re-Assimilated
Leading iconography experts already had recognized this. In fact, using different wording, they were the first to say that it is next to impossible to recuperate the Canon in all its details, that the only way to get back onto the right path is to re-assimilate byzantine painting (Fr. Zinon, Deacon Serafim and others). In the sections that follow you will find five articles each by a different author. In it the issue is being discussed to various degrees, together with some new approaches as part of an effort to regain lost territory.
 Iconographers of the Twentieth Century
         - by Aidan Hart, England
Aidan Hart is England's leading iconographer. Born in 1957, Aidan Hart has been a professional icon and fresco painter for over twenty years. He also is a theologian and wood carver. He studied iconography in the UK and during three years in Thessalonica and Mount Athos. He has had works commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales, and by many churches and individuals around the world.
     Of particular interest to the reader would be Aidan Hart's vast knowledge and understanding of iconography in its historical context and his interpretation thereof as it applies to Orthodox iconography today. In an excellent article titled Iconographers of the Twentieth Century (PDF), written in 2000, he provides an overview of essential elements, without getting bogged down into details : a "must read" for every iconographer conscious of the importance of maintaining the Canon, while going beyond merely making copies of 12th-century icons.
Click this line to visit Aidan Hart's website.

 Interview with Vladimir Grigorenko
Vladimir Grigorenko is an accomplished iconographer. Born in Ukraine, he came to the US in the year 2000 to paint the icons in the Iconostasis of the newly built St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas TX, and to decorate the entire church with frescoes. In the Interview, Vladimir talks about his life as iconographer and thereby brings up some fascinating and broad ranging issues pertinent to Iconography as a profession and pertinent to the Church as a sacred institution. In the interview Vladimir gives a personal in-depth account of issues surrounding the revival of iconography today.
     The link that follows takes you to the Section in the Interview where Vladimir Grigorenko talks about these issues (it starts off with "A Window into the Kingdom of Heaven" ). Click the next link if you want to read All of the Interview, or this 3rd link to see the Iconostasis in the St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral.

 Testimonies of Orthodox Russia
          - by Deacon Serafim In an article titled Testimonies of Orthodox Russia - Contemporary Icons: the Birth of Religious Art , Deacon Serafim points out that the spiritual traditions [ of icon painting ] are entirely lost and that in view thereof icon writing cannot simply resume its course by copying icons of the 11th to 15th centuries. The article continues by saying that if today's iconography is to renew itself, it will be necessary to re-assimilate the Byzantine iconography.
     The original link to the article [ on the site ] disappeared, but after a few web searches the article was found back on the site of the Moscow Icon-Painting Center [ ].
     The article there is titled "The religious meaning of the icons and the principal contemporary iconographical schools" Since the article had already disappeared once, in order to avoid losing sight of it altogether, I took the liberty to re-print it on this page, and in the meantime sent an email to The Moscow Icon-Painting Center to request their formal approval for doing so. Click the following link to go to the re-print.

     The icons that showed in the original article are beautiful : the Mother of God Hodegetria, and the Savior, both by Ol'ga Skrobotova, Studio "Kanon", 1999. Studio "Kanon", however, also disappeared. And with it some 50 icons. The consolation price: the beautiful icons on the new site [ ].
Click the link to the Icon-Painting Center in the Index-Imagebase
Or go directly to their gallery ==> 13 icons. Superb!

 Moscow Icon Painting at the Close of the XXth Century
          - by Svetlana Rjanitcyna, Russia
Svetlana Rjanitcyna was born in1967 in Moscow. From early childhood she liked to draw. She studied at the art school "Surikovskaya", where she had remarkable teachers, the now famous talented artists Andrijaka S.N. and Vishnjak M.V. They taught her to work with persistence and showed her the beauty of ancient Russian painting. The artist is a follower of Alexander Sokolov, one of Russia's outstanding iconographers.
     Recently, the artist wrote an article in which she analyses the Moscow icon painting scene. In order to do so she needed to push her own likes and dislikes to the background so as to be able to function as an art critic. As such she reviews the work of individual iconographers. As well, she tries to identify potential problems. The monograph is in Russian with a Summary in English.
     Click the link that follows to read the English Summary
Note: Patience is required to load it.

 Artistic and Commercial Revival of Religious Painting
          - by Anna Hatziyannaki, Greece
In the paragraphs that follow Anna Hatziyannaki makes a distinction between "artistic" and "commercial" revival of religious painting :
     "The fact that Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons are museum items found only in finite numbers has finally lead to a revival of the art of icon painting which, until recently, served the needs of churches and religious people; it is only in recent years that icons are also seen as decorative elements.
     At this point we need to distinguish between the artistic and the commercial revival of religious painting, although both these terms are debatable. Let me put this in another way: there is a contemporary religious painting which respects the themes, the techniques and the style of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art, and there is also the production of bad copies. As usual in the revival of an older artistic movement, next to the serious specimens found in museum shops and select galleries one finds a host of crude, mass-produced copies."

     The complete text can be found in: The tradition of religious painting in Greece, by Anna Hatziyannaki.

3. Exhibitions & Special Features

 Contemporary Icons - Exhibitions
Following are two Contemporary Icons Exhibitions that took place in Europe earlier in the year. Hopefully, in the future, we will know in advance when they will be taking place. Fortunately, we can still see some of the icons that were exhibited. We also see that the revival of iconography is for real.
     Both exhibitions were reported on by THE TABLET : Through Eyes of Faith : Two exhibitions highlight an intense debate about how icons can beckon towards eternity, while also reflecting the times of their making.

 Richness and Diversity - Contemporary Balkan Icons
          - by Lazar Predrag Markovic, Curator
Lazar Predrag Markovic, Serbia, sent me a message to let us know that he is taking a Travelling Exhibition of Balkan icons through several countries in North and North-West Europe. Says Lazar "It is a unique Exhibition as it presents traditional icons (copies of Byzantine icons) and also rarely seen naive and modern icons".
- Here is the main link to the Exhibition : Balkan Icons Exhibition  [ ]
- Here is the Front Page link without frames. Attention !!! - this link misses out on the Frame links : .
     The Exhibition may be considered a 'snapshot' of what is going on in religious painting in the Balkans, today. Some of the works may surprise by being quite different from traditional icons. Unfortunately, one cannot identify the authors of the works, except for the icon of Saint Martyr Sophia who appears on the front page of the Exhibition website. Dressed in a green-blue mantle, she is shown with her daughters Faith, Hope and Love. It's an icon made by Biljana Jovanovic (see listing in Index-Imagebase).
     I appreciate being able to see all three iconographical expressions together in one exhibition.
     Thank you, Lazar, for bringing us these interesting and beautiful icons!

 Sacred Iconography - A Living Tradition
          - by Dr. Stéphane René and Aidan Hart
"A unique exhibition of sacred icons painted in the Russian, Greek, Coptic and Ethiopian styles of orthodox iconography will be (was) shown at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, 19-22 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3SG from 19 April to 12 May 2006. This event will bring (brought) together artists from parts of the world where the art continues to be practiced as part of a living tradition."
- InHTML format -
- In PDF format -
     Many participating exhibitors are iconographers as well as icon painting teachers.

 Special Features - Contemporary Icons
Some time ago, a separate page was made telling about some events that in my eyes were special, if not unique, and which I explored in further detail. Identified by name and date, the events are reported on a page named Special Features. Click the link to see for yourself.

4. Miscellaneous

 Byzantine Iconographers : List your web presence - FREE !
          Click the link : List your web presence in the Iconographers' Index-Imagebase, it's FREE !
          Offer / Message to Byzantine Iconographers :
Your iconography work may be present and visible on the web in the form of a website or under some other form. An art critic may have written a review of your work, for example, or a journalist may have written a story, in the printed media or online. Some of your works may be showing (online) as well. In either case you can be listed free of charge. If this is of interest to you, please click on this link or on the one above.
          Thank you.
          P.S.: Please note that this Offer is made to Byzantine Iconographers only.

(1) Copyright. Most of the images on these Contemporary Byzantine Icons pages are protected by the copyright of the respective artist or association. They are shown here with permission of the artists. In most cases If an artist is claiming copyright for his image(s) an explicit copyright statement is made on the page showing his icon or mural.
     Images not protected by the copyright of the respective artist or association, are protected by the copyright of the author of this website.
(2) Representatives. Representatives refers to organizations representing a number of iconographers. They sell and distribute their icons. (Come and See, Trinity Stores and others.)
(3) Distributors. Distributors refers to independent sales organizations who have their own iconographers to produce icons for them of various sizes. They may also sell prints glued on durable wood with a finish (lamination) to preserve the images. (Orthodox Icons of St. Isaac of Syria Skete), Religious Icons from Greece, ReligiousMall / Religious.Net and ArtGreece are the ones best known.
(4) Music. Choral chant can be easily listened to. Click the link below for Sacred Music, then click item 1,28m, it is beautiful and has a long play time. Wait till the pop-up window (upper left corner) disappears, then click the back arrow in your browser to return to this screen.
Rimsky-Korsakov > item 1, 28m
(5) Disclaimer. An occasional opinion expressed on this website is strictly that of the author and does not implicate the Church, or any other organization or individual. No claim is made that data shown on this website is complete or without errors. Please send me an email if you do find an error.

I thank all among you who have granted permission for showing some of your works and/or expressed your appreciation for these pages. I sincerely hope that these pages may contribute to a wider sharing of the visual and spiritual beauty of the Byzantine Icon.

Once again, thank you for your interest and enjoy your visit!

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Re-print of the article by Deacon Serafim :
The religious meaning of the icons
and the principal contemporary iconographical schools

The icon (from the Greek: "image") represents one of the most important means of the tradition of the Orthodox Church. Its meaning for the spiritual life of the Christian was fixed by the dogma on the veneration of the icons of the VII Ecumenical Council, Nicea in 787 before Christ. According to the definition of the Council, the icon like the Cross and the Gospel, can be revered with incense, candles, kisses and bows: "the honour attributed to the image is transferred to the primitive image, to the prototype and to bow in front of the icon means to bow in front of who is represented." Every church and every house must have an icon and in the liturgical services the gesticulation of the icon veneration is expressed.

The image not only preserves the truth of the Sacred Tradition, the truth of the incarnation in the history of the Word of God, but also the transcendent and unattainable truths by the common perception. losif Volockij, Russian saint of the 16th century, reflecting on the icon of the Trinity, says: "what is not possible to see with eyes (of the body), can be contemplated with the icons."

In fact, the source of the iconography is constituted by the sacred history (the Old Testament, the Gospel, the life of the saints) and by the theological speculation of the Orthodox Church, by its Fathers and iconographers, by the mystical experience and of prayer of the ascetics. In the orthodox iconography, the image of the Saviour of the world, of the Child of incarnated God, is founded upon three miraculous images "not made by man", but by God: "The Saviour not created by man" of king Abgar's sheet, the image of Christ with the crown of thorns of the cloth of Veronica and the image of the body of Christ of the Saint Shroud. Besides, the iconography of Christ includes the interpretation of the oral tradition, the description of the semblance of the Child of God kept on times of the apostles as the teachings of the Church on Christ, God, Judge and incarnated Almighty. The numerous images of the Mother of God are based on the copies of the icons painted by the apostle Luke (according to the tradition), on the icons which appeared in a miraculous way and on the theological reflection of the Church on the Mother of God, as Virgin, as Queen of the Sky and the Earth, as Interceptor for the whole world in front of the Holy Child. The iconography of the saints reproduces the testimony of their disciples and the teaching of the Church, for this reason every man is image of God and the holiness is the authentic divination of the man. In the icons the saint not only is a historical character, but also the man transfigured by the Grace of God; he has reached salvation and he opened his heart to the compassion to the prayer and the help of all the believers.
The symbolic icons or the sacred images (as the representations of the Church of Christ under the form of an ark, of the Last Judgment) are allegorical descriptions, particular artistic interpretations of the dogmatic and mystical teachings of the Church. According to nun Julijana Sokolova's words, one among the most eminent contemporary iconographers teachers, "there is no independent art. The iconography is a part of the life of the Church, one of its expressions... The Church expresses in the images its own teachings, its own history, and the dogmas of the faith or the theology and the prayer as breath of the spiritual life... The language of the icon has been elaborated by the wisdom of the Church, the people and the history under the guide of the always present Holy Ghost."

The iconographical tradition, already present in the first period of the Christianity, came in the Rus' through Constantinople, from which derives the orientation and the style of the Russian iconography. It reached his apex with the works of the schools of Andrej Rublev, Dionysus and Theophan the Greek. To the beginning of the 20th century in Russia a treasure of icons was accumulated and it was esteemed around 200 million plates, a lot of those of high artistic level. If we consider the icons as objects of art, then no country all over the world would have been able to equalize Russia for cultural wealth. Nevertheless, during the 20th century, with the victory of the atheist and antinationalist Soviet power, many iconographical studios were ransacked, so many icons were destroyed or brought abroad. The rebirth of the iconography took back in the seventies in the Monastery of the Caves of Pskov, in the Lavra of the Trinity of St. Sergej and in Moscow; nevertheless, the exponential growth of the activity of writing of the icons was realized with the restitution from the State to the Church of the Monastery of St. Danilij in Moscow for the Millenary of the baptism of the Rus'.

Naturally the iconographical schools do not exist today anymore as those of the past centuries; in the Russian contemporary iconography three main orientations can be delineated.

The first one continues the tradition of the academic painting and the iconography of the 19th century and it is represented not by iconographers, but by painters that approached to the iconography and to the frescos of the churches thanks to the restoration as for example the colossal one of the church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. The decorations have been realized, during the past year, by an equipe of painters under the academician Zurab Cereteli's guide. However, this orientation, sustained by secular artists and, sometimes, not believers, does not have great importance in the development of the authentic iconography.

The second orientation of the Russian contemporary iconography is originated by the craftsmanship, as for example Palech or Mstera. The artisan laboratories, that in the past century gave life to a mass production of icons, during the years of the atheism had to convert themselves to the realization of souvenir as for example the little boxes of lacquered wood and the matrioske. In this type of objects the figurative tradition of the different schools, which are distinguished for the refined decorum, the elegant miniature and the presence of the popular motives, is preserved. Nowadays, however, the number of these teacher-artisans is very decreased, both for the decadence that the craftsmanship suffered in the seventies, and because the technical complex of the decorative iconography requires a prolonged study, a very long time for production and, accordingly, financially well-to-do clients.

Nevertheless the main orientation of the contemporary iconography in the Russian Orthodox Church, reborn after the epoch of the persecutions, is based on the iconographical Byzantine and Russian traditions of the epoch of Andrej Rublev (15th century). Many of the exponents of this tendency are priests; person who reached the world of the iconography by the restoration and others that do not have a professional training.

One of the most famous exponents of the rebirth of the ancient iconographical tradition is the archimandrite Zinon. He says: "Being the spiritual traditions entirely lost, to turn to the image of the 15th century doesn't make any sense. It is necessary to return to the sources of our spirituality through the assimilation of the Byzantine iconography. Today the iconographer has to follow the same itinerary that made the Russian iconographers in the first years of the Christianity of the Rus', when the models were the Greek icons." Deacon Serafim

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The vast majority of names shown in the Index-Imagebase are the names of individual iconographers. If a name is given to their studio, it has been shown as well, even though the entry will be under the artist's personal name (family name). Essentially, the number of entries shown at the top of the page indicates the number of sites. All entries are counted as one (1) iconographer, except when it pertains to a sales organization when any artist that may be involved isn't known to the outside world and therefore is not counted, in which case the entry shows an asterisk. Associations or Communities of artists, and Monasteries, are counted as one (1) iconographer as well, even if there are several of them. Shown below are some examples of Associations, Communities, Monasteries, Schools, Studios and Workshops. The list is by no means complete.
  • ATELIER SAINT ANDRÉ : Philippe Grall, Cécilia Bondolfi, Anne Lombard, Michel Le Bars
  • ATELIER SAINT-JEAN DAMASCENE : Rev. Nicolas Garrigou, Ludmilla Tichenkova and Jean-Baptiste Garrigou (disciple of Father Teodor Zinon, Pskov).
  • BULGARIAN ORTHODOX WEB GALLERY : Borislav Dospevski, Stanislav Dospevski, Peter Minjov, Diameter Morel
  • COME AND SEE : Ilya Balavadze, Michael Balavadze, Robert S. Burt, Joanna Ferencz, Maikel Gerges, Michael Golz, Iuri Kochetov, Raymond Mastroberte, Dorin Marin Orzatec, Nicholas Papas, Henry Shirley, Arlene Tilghman, Constantine Youssis, Philip Zimmerman.
         Note: some of the iconographers listed with Come and See are also shown individually.
  • IRINA AND SONS : Ustinian Tilov, Uri Georgiev, Emilia Gorgieva, Milen Ianev, Kitan Kitanov, Lora Maleva, Miglena Prashkova, Julia Stankova, Dimitar Vassilev, Svetla Zagorcheva
  • (THE) PALEKHSKAYA (Icon-painting) WORKSHOP :
  • REGINA PACIS : Elisabeth Coveliers osb, Erica Van De Cauter osb
  • STUDIO KANON : Natalija Aglickaja, Evgenij Maljagin, Ol'ga Skrobotova, Vasilij Sokolov, Evgenij Zukov
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  • Note 1. Location
    Location of artists, communities - Approximate breakdown
    - Europe 63% - North America 31% - Other parts of the world 6%

  • Note 2. Countries covered
    This website gives a look at icon painting in 38 countries: the Medieval Byzantine Icons page shows icons, frescoes and mosaics in 23 countries; and this Contemporary Byzantine Icons page shows icons and frescoes in an additional 15 countries including: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, (The) Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA.

  • Note 3. Indexes are sortable.
    Both indexes on this page are sortable. To perform a sort, click on a column heading. Sorting can be done in more than one category. For example: Clicking first on heading 'Country', next on heading 'Continent', you will see the countries listed alphabetically by Continent. Attention: Sorts performed in IE are fast and accurate. In Mozilla Firefox they are slower and less precise.

  • Note 4. Copyright
    The line "Shown with permission..." is an example of what should be shown at each entry but isn't, as this may become an annoyance to visitors. For further information, please refer to the entry made on 30 November 2003 on the copyright page.
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   Sacred music : Rimsky-Korsakov  (click item 1, 28m)  
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