Fr. Silouan Justiniano recently interviewed the extraordinary Romanian iconographer Ioan Popa for the Orthodox Arts Journal. Below is my favorite passage, from Mr. Popa. Here he is addressing the context and creative challenges facing contemporary church painters. He lays out an artistic credo: an evangelical foundation for the ministry of iconography as a pastoral work.
"You have to think deeply to whom you are addressing the painting: To you, to your fellows, or to God? If we apply love as an evangelical foundation, I think that we must carefully bend towards the way our fellows feel things. Even though most of the times they are not educated, the love of beauty is seeded in them. And as servants in color we can either alleviate or exhaust them through what we paint; we can send them a message or, worse, confuse them.
"So we can use all the tools allowed: concise and powerful visual shapes, a narrow but valuable chromatic palette, gold foil not in excess, dropping frames between scenes in order to let the viewer read them as sequences, a careful balance between full and empty, monumentality, texts developed to replace abusive ornaments, dropping landscape or architectural accessories in scenes, and emphasizing the conception in unity with the rest of the liturgical objects from the interior. I do not exaggerate if I compare the image of today’s icon with a qualitative advertising banner. Practically, both address the same contemporary person in everyday life."