"Red Icons." Icons on glass from the collection of Ivan Hrechko


Venue: 26 Virmenska Str., Lviv, Ukraine, 79008

Date: 2012-01-19 - 2012-02-15

"Almost in every hucul house the brightest color chords were the icons, painted on glass with oil paints. Their full unmixed colors: white, black, red, blue, yellow, - increased by transparency of blown glass and shiny tinsel, created especially solemn and festive atmosphere. Possibly, because of their overwhelming light-red colors, local people called them "red icons." Carefully placed on the shelves opposite the door, they were sort of domestic iconostasis where especially revered  Hutsul Saints: St. Nicholas, George the Serpent Fighter, Saint Mary, the Great Martyr Barbara, were definitely included. Tthey were purchased  to memorize the important family events,  and the life of the owners passed  from birth to death under them ."
Victor Melnyk
In the second half of the 18th century in the mountainous areas of Central and Eastern Europe folk artists began to draw icons on glass. In the 19th century this art has reached its heyday in Bohemia, Silesia, Moravia, Slovakia, Romania and Galicia foremost on Hutsul region.
The  icons on glass are the main in the collection of Ivan Hrechko. It is a passion of the collector.  And it is clear why. Hutsul icons are distinguished by the particular palette based on bright red background. In terms of style - it is so-called naive art with its simplicity, flatness, spontaneity and exceptional expressiveness of images. There are many western Latin elements in the iconography, through which Byzantine foundation and phantasmagorias of folklore emerge.
In the twinkling of bright colors, stars and flowers, we see  Mother of God, who feeds the baby and extends the maforiy above the faithful in order to defend them; and St. George on the horseback, who pierces the snake with a spear getting the victory;  St.. Barbara with a chalice in her hand calling for Communion; the Prophet Elijah in the decorated chariots,  ruled by the  Angels,  uplifting our look to Heaven, and the poor Lazarus, whose wounds are licked by the dogs on the background of a rich man”s banquet - a reminder that suffering in this world is the way to salvation.
Contemplating these images we get into the lost world of authentic Hutsul houses and churches. Because of the selfless activity of Ivan Hrechko a part of this world was saved and now speaks to us.

Nazar Kozak
The exhibition "Red icons" can be visited from 19 January to 15February in the n ICONART gallery of contemporary sacred art  at Lviv, Virmenska Str., 26, from 12 p.m. to 19 p.m . daily, except Monday.