Byzantine icons originated in the 1st century as both a visual text book for teaching Christianity to members of the early Church as well as a “spiritual gateway,” a medium for the faithful to establish communication with the sacred. Religious icons require a fixed, disciplined technique, intended to eliminate personal artistic style, which is considered a distraction from their intended spiritual purpose. Byzantine icons still play a vital role in the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, with many contemporary iconographers still practicing the same techniques used centuries ago. Can contemporary artists move away from the constraints of iconography to create a more relevant, yet still spiritually meaningful, style? I strive to explore the questions, can the sacred be translated into the secular, and how would that look.

Diamantis J. Cassis (1934-2015), Byzantine Iconographer and Joni's Father

Other places I look for inspiration and influence:

Orthodox Arts Journal – Articles and news for the promotion of traditional Orthodox Christian liturgical arts. See in particular: article Towards Indigenous and Mature Liturgical Arts

Baptism, Photios Kontoglou
Baptism, Joni Zavitsanos


Other artists:

Photios Kontoglou, a great artist and iconographer. Though he followed the prescription for iconography, his style remains quite beautiful and unique. See article: Photios Kontoglou: The Greatest Icon Painter of 20th Century Greece

Theofilos Hatzimichail is of Mytilene, Greece, my mother’s birthplace. He was a Greek folk artist 1868-1934: See article: TheofilosHatzimichail

Alekos Fassianosis a Greek painter. A former student of the School of Fine Arts of Athens and studied in Paris and showed around the world. See article: AlekosFassianos

Tassos Haraktiki – He helped take independent engraving from just illustration lending it size and dominance. See article: Tribute to A. Tassos

Fotis Varthis – He is an engraver and print maker. The byzantine painting, as a visual language, is related to the themes depicted in his works. See website: About FotisVarthis