On sunday afternoon our family drove down to St. James Church in nearby Dundas to attend the opening of an exhibit by local Hamilton artist Guennadi Kalinine, a trained iconographer, painter and restorer of art. As Kalinine himself was present, I was able to converse with him about his approach to iconography in particular. As is typical, his own painted icons bear no signature, as they simply replicate much earlier works and are governed by the strict canons of Orthodox Christianity. There is no effort to express one's individuality. Kalinine told me he is often asked whether a particular icon is his own. He responds that it is not; it comes from, say, the 12th century. He is then asked whether he painted it. Yes, he replies, but it is not his own. When a musician plays a piece by Bach, he would never think of claiming it as his own; it remains Bach's. So it is with icons. Such an attitude is foreign to westerners.
We especially enjoyed Kalinine's efforts to incorporate traditional iconic images into his landscapes, which do bear his signature. Websters Falls is one of the more famous scenic locations in Hamilton. Kalinine managed to place an angel at Websters Falls in one of his "Fantazy" paintings.
The exhibit runs through 7 January 2011, which coincides with Christmas in the Julian calendar followed by the Orthodox Church. Definitely worth a visit.