The exhibition ” Icons in Transformation” shows the icon mystery; its spiritual power transformed into masterpieces of art. It presents traditional icons as a source of inspiration for contemporary art. The best known artist in this field is internationally recognized artist Ludmila Pawlowska www.ludmilapawlowska.se and here she presents work in three dimensional paintings, sculptures and installations. When one considers the widespread interest in the Eastern Christian icon throughout Western culture – regarding its qualities of form, depth, wealth of religious content and its spiritual aura – it comes as no surprise that the icon became a major source of artistic inspiration. Interest grew during the 19th and 20th centuries and continues to be a significant influence in art. Contrary to popular opinions claiming that the icon has become stale or irrelevant, as if frozen in a forgotten stylistic form, divorced from art by the straight-jacket of conservative rules which constrain the artist. In reality it constitutes a reservoir of symbolic shape, colour and means of expression, with high energy and potential, capable of stimulating the imagination of artists and viewers. Peculiarly trans-figurative, the icon provokes the artist to numerous transpositions that result in innovative solutions visually remote from the prototype and stamped with individuality. Their transfiguration is guaranteed by the authenticity of the experience and thoughts of the artist who refines the adopted designs through the filter of their personality and artistic inclinations. It becomes art, formed in different times and based on aesthetic models other than those of the traditional icon. There are many reasons why we value the icon. One being ideology, especially in countries with Orthodox traditions these stem from a desire to re-create the national culture. Another, being a formality within the field of art, beginning and ending with motivations of a religious and spiritual nature.
This exhibit itself reflects the language of the Divine. It is contemporary approach to the same message as the traditional icon. It is not about icons, rather showing icons as the source of this work. Using a two dimensional aspect and reversing the perspective so that we view through the divine rather than the human eye, a billboard effect is achieved with vibrant luminescence, using rich and striking colors in a geometric schematic style. Finally the painting techniques and the material used combine to achieve an infusion of sacred symbolism. Again and again artists try to make sense of the divine using their own creations with symbolic motifs. In a time when some people are neglecting religion, the icon opens up ones eyes and mind to discussion about the meaning and culture of the divine perspective. The exhibition “Icons in Transformation” presents the question of Icon inspiration against the vast background of changes that took place in 20th century art. There are well know representatives of the Russian avant-gard Goncharova, Malevich, Larinov, Petrov-Vodkin, Tatlin and of various movements in the West with names as famous as those of Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Brancusi, Chagall, Orozco, Giacometti, Rouault, Modigliani, Warhol, Klein, Rainer, Fontana, Matisse, Flavin, Viola and now Pawlowska.
Although there is still a strong desire for spirituality nowadays, many people have undergone a dramatic shift away from the church today – can art open up access to those visionary transcendent worlds, which originally was reserved solely for the church? Can artists create believable images in which the longing for the divine is visible? Icons in Transformation is an attempt to answer that question.