The Independent Collector: JOHN WINDSOR'S GUIDE TO COLLECTING CONTEMPORARY ART: SERGEI FYODOROV
Tuesday 10 November 1998
a tradition older than Christianity. Sergei Fyodorov, 39, whose solo selling exhibition opens in London on Thursday, was apprenticed to his father Zinon, the finest icon-painter in the former Soviet Union. He now works in a studio in a sandstone country mansion near Bath.
Fyodorov's stylised paintings of the Holy Family and saints are resplendent in gold leaf and pigments that he grinds himself from lapis lazuli, malachite and amber.
Iconographers are not Renaissance men. They abjure the fleshy naturalism of Giotto or Raphael, adhering instead to the pure forms of Byzantine painting zealously guarded by the Eastern Orthodox Church since its split with the Western (Roman Catholic) Church, back in 1054.
In his studio, Fyodorov tips a spoonful of Russian balsam into my tea - "in case you go to sleep". He is softly spoken and courteous.
Even Western eyes cannot fail to be transfixed by Fyodorov's disciplined harmonies of proportion and colour, but what makes one copier of archaic forms better than the rest?
Fyodorov has had commissions from all over Russia. In this country, he has painted icons for Winchester cathedral's retro-choir and a crucifixion for Rochester cathedral; two of his icons hang in Westminster Abbey. Why?
He explains: "Painting icons is like using a language. Every language has its own words, its own grammatical rules, but that does not mean that everybody can use the language to express themselves as deeply as they might wish. I try to combine the elements of the language - the rules of correct proportion, say, or the rules governing the positioning of the saints - in the most harmonious way. I have read plenty of books... but in the end it is the artist's eye that chooses the elements."
He points to the angels' wings of his Trinity, feathered with long strokes of gold. "This is a 14th-century style of wings," he says. "I would use a different style for the Angel Gabriel." And the mountains in the background? "Seventh century. The style is so old that I dare say they look modern to you."
"Every icon painter should have his own connection with eternity," he adds. "Then his icons will give direct experience of it, like a touch of heaven.
`A Vision of Eternity', 12-27 November (Monday-Friday, 10am-5.30pm), Daphne Johns Contemporary Art,
12 Duke Street, London SW1 (0171-839 7671). Prices: pounds 2,000-pounds 15,000
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 3 Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
- 4 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 5 Pastafarian former porn star Asia Lemmon allowed to wear colander in driving licence photo
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Better Call Saul: Breaking Bad spin-off gets release date, logo and ominous new trailer
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services