TABOR - Tradition and Contemporaneity in the Romanian Orthodox Church
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The Art of Painting with Light – From Dyonisus to Yuri Holdin

ELENA DULGHERU, The Art of Painting with Light – From Dyonisus to Yuri Holdin
One of the most important, yet less known icon painters during the momentum of this art in Russia
is Dyonisus (approx. 1430 – after 1502). The hesychastic experience, which had profoundly infl uenced
the work of Devout Andrei Rublev, was continued, at a new scale, by Dyonisus. The theology
of Gregory Palamas, brought to Russia by Athonite monks, left a profound mark on the Russian
iconic art. Kept in high regard by his contemporaries, Dyonisus falls to oblivion during the 19th and
especially during the 20th century, especially outside Russia. The reasons? The advanced degradation
of the Ferapont monastery, the most representative keeper of his work, and the unsatisfactory
quality of the reproductions of Dyonisus’ works in Russian art albums, respectively: the photography
and the printing of icons has always ignored theology. Russian photographer Yuri Holdin
(1954-2007) is the fi rst to put into value the exceptional pictorial and theologically confessional
quality of Dyonisus’ work, after 500 years. Holdin proves that photographing icons is a spiritual act,
involving not just photographic technique, but also subtle understanding and theological feeling.
Thus, Holdin founds the principles of “pneumatic photography”, rendering to an art highly dependent
on theology the elevation of the old mastery of painting holy faces. The spiritual continuation
from St. Gregory Palamas to painter Dyonisus, to photographer Yuri Holdin is given by the fact that
all these philocalic individuals have seen the taboric light.
KEYWORDS: Dyonisus, St. Gregory Palamas, icon, photography