7 Comments

  1. Sister Esther

    Thank you so much for this article!

  2. This article answers many questions for me. I saw some of Fr. Zenon’s works in Russia years ago, but I could never learn any certain information about him. People seemed reluctant to speak of him openly – either because of his ecclesial ban or because the mastery of his work made him seem more like a myth than a living man. Indeed, to my eyes, the iconostasis at the Danilov undercroft seemed too good to be true; it had such an intense ethos of medieval spiritual vision that I could barely convince myself I was really looking at an object recently made.

    I am truly grateful to finally read this detailed account of the man himself. Bless him, O Lord!

  3. Dear Aidan, thank you for the excellent article about great iconographer!
    Minor addition: most of his last works – like in Feodorovskiy Sobor or in Simonopetra Monastery on Mt. Athos, had been made not in Fresco, but in Casein tempera.

    And one more thing – being humble and obedient, Fr. Zinon is very independent thinker, which is hot popular in contemporary Russian Church reality. I think that is why some people may refused to talk about him, Andrew….

  4. Here is an extract from a short interview with Fr Zenon made 27 years ago; it comes from my book, Pilgrim to the Russian Church. At that time I anglicized the spelling of his name as “Zinon”.

    — Jim Forest

    Pskov, February 24, 1987: …. I met a quite different personality in Fr. Zinon, the community’s young but already famous icon painter. He did, for example, the iconostasis of the Church of the Protecting Veil at the Danilov monastery. I have heard people in Moscow compare Fr. Zinon with Rublev.

    The community cherishes Fr. Zinon’s vocation and has built an old-style log cabin as a place for him to work. A large window with glass assures him plenty of northern light. The room is warm not only from the stove but from the colors and the smell of paint. In one corner I noticed lapis lazuli stones being soaked in preparation for grinding. All the colors used to paint an icon are hand-made from natural substances, mostly minerals. On the easel was a part of the iconostasis he is painting for another church under restoration at the Danilov monastery, the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

    I asked Fr. Zinon if he had been raised a believer. “No, though my mother is a believer. For me I started to come to belief when I was an art student. I was searching for some time for a copy of the Gospels and finally found a copy and then read them through. Then I decided.” I was struck by the monastic directness of his answer. Though he is a young monk, 33, he already has the sobriety I associate with the monastic life.

    I asked him about icons. “They are not like civil painting. They aren’t for museums. They aren’t decorations. They are a reflection that God became man. They are holy doors.”

    Did he feel free to make changes in the traditional images? “The icon painter hasn’t the right to change an icon just to be different. Icons carry the real feeling and teaching of Orthodoxy. It isn’t the painter’s own work. It is from heaven. We who are called to paint them are not icon producers. We never sign what we paint. We are just making copies.”

    Was special preparation needed to paint an icon? “Yes! It is the fulfillment of prayer. You need to feel the Spirit. You can feel icons only during prayer. And icons are only for prayer. An icon is a place of prayer. You paint it in the same way you prepare for a church service, with prayer and fasting. It is a liturgical work. Preparing to paint an icon is like preparing to celebrate the Holy Liturgy.”

    * * *

  5. Theo

    thanks for the wonderful article and for the youtube and web links.

  6. Thank you so much for this article. For a long time I have wanted to learn more about Fr. Zinon and his work. I’ve only ears about it but was very interested to see more of his Iconographic style and philosophy.
    I am posting a link on my Art/Icon blog https://newchristianiconsblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php so that my fellow Iconographers can see it too. Blessings and thanks
    Christine Hales

  7. Gale

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive article to date of his works and his evolving style. This website is such a wonderful resource for all the Eastern liturgical arts. I commend all the contributors. Thank you again.

Comments are closed.