Exhibit showing - November through February 26, 1999
John Solowianiuk started carving wood at a young age, making animals and toys to trade with playmates. In 1969, he graduated with a degree in art from The University of Mikaloj Copernicus in Torun, Poland. He pursued art in the medium of oil painting, not applying his woodcarving talents until 1980 when he was commissioned to paint icons and carve the iconostasis (altar screen) for Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in his hometown of Hajnowka, Poland. Although asked only to paint the icons, Mr. Solowianiuk decided to carve one. That first icon started a new career for Mr. Solowianiuk, who revived the Eastern European tradition dating from the twelfth century and established him as one of the best woodcarvers in Europe.
Mr. Solowianiuk's tools include a variety of knives, chisels and files. He works in bass wood, dyeing and gilding the carved icons, sometimes leaving unstained areas, revealing the natural beauty of the wood.
The Belarusian Icon Tradition
The Belarusian carved icon tradition dates back to the icon of Saints Constantine and Elena from the twelfth century in Polocak. Because of wars in the late 1700s the icon-carving artists migrated to Russia. Subsequently, these icons earned great acclaim there. In 1722 and 1832 the Russian Orthodox Synod issued directives which prohibited sculpture in the churches. These directives are still in force today. Icon carving effectively ceased. However, the churches in the United States allow this art form to be used within their architecture.
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