Manolis Betinakis: “Those icons made without hand…”. From Crete to Russia

From the 4th of October till the 15thof November 2015 the Concert-Exhibition Hall “Smolny Cathedral” will host the exhibition of Greek icon painter Manolis Betinakis “Those icons made without hand…”

MANOLIS BETINAKIS. “THOSE ICONS MADE WITHOUT HAND…” 04.10-15.11.2015, SMOLNY CATHEDRAL

From the 4th of October till the 15thof November 2015 the Concert-Exhibition Hall “Smolny Cathedral” will host the exhibition of Greek icon painter Manolis Betinakis “Those icons made without hand…”

Russia and Greece, Crete. Close cultural ties existed between us for centuries. Already in the XII century Russian pilgrims visited the shrines of the island. Issues of cultural contacts have been discussed at scientific conferences in Moscow and Heraklion, they were the subjects of several exhibitions in Crete and in Russia.

The exhibition “Those icons made without hand…” is a logical extension of them. Its newness and peculiarity is that it introduces the artist working today, but in his work demonstrating the deep connection with the ancient traditions of the Cretan School.

The exhibition “Those icons made without hand…” gives a unique opportunity to see the works of Manolis Betinakis gathered together from different churches and monasteries of Crete. It represents 41 works, which includes icons, a few frescoes and two mosaics. The works include nearly 30-year period of creativity of the iconographer. The works are presented in an environment with many pictures of the scenery of the island, where most of the temples were painted. These are a documentary story about the life and work of the iconographer, accurately presenting the unique atmosphere of his homeland.

Betinakis rarely leaves Crete. He is rooted here, forever linked with the life of the island and with the life of the church. He was born in Heraklion in 1946 in a priest’s family and from an early age began to learn the basics of icon painting with Master George Manusakis. At age 23 he opened his own studio.

The singularity of images created by Betinakis is deepest tension, focus and strictness combined with bright, saturated color palette. He does not create icons on ready outlines. He creates his own pattern on the priming of the icon by his pencil or brush. Then he applies the background gold followed by writing the cloths, architecture or landscape, and finally, the images and hands. After completion he varnishes the icon.

His whole life is a constant and tireless work with the support of his family that shares with him the severity of his illness and the joy of his work. Today, being almost devoid of the ability to move and breathe without the help of a special apparatus, he works every day for 5-6 hours – in spite of illness and circumstances, contrary to what the ordinary man would consider insurmountable. However, life and work for him is the same thing. One without the other is impossible. Work is a never-ending prayer embodied in images of spiritual reality. It’s happening day after day and blends with eternity…

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