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Seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2Cor., 4:6)

“Religion is not only the music of soul, it sounds for me, but also out of me and above me, it is not subjective, it is outer”1. - S. Bulgakov.

Every Christian puts his efforts into the deeds for God’s glory. I am an art historian, and for me natural devotion is the art research. Meeting with icons by Yuriy Kuznetsov in 2004 finally determined my way.

Since that particular time I have been researching icon painting by Yu. Kuznetsov, and as a result of this I’ve started this project, aimed at study and popularization of Kuznetsov’s icons. My book about these unusual icons will soon be published. All I write in this book I have felt keenly and experienced myself. The book investigates in details various aspects of the Kuznetsov’s manner, and also highlights some general issues: Christianity, meaning of icons, faith, piety… From the last one I would start.

Kristina Kondratieva, art historian,
      the author of the  Global Art Communications project
Kristina Kondratieva,
art historian, the author of the Global Art Communications project
For me piety is a human being’s ability to know God, to reveal spiritual and divine nature of his inner self. It is a great blessing, that we have such a possibility! Here lies our difference from animals. The human being is spiritually blessed. So piety is the most natural and inherent human quality, which helps us to realize our destination and find inner harmony. “Music of soul” will sound in every person’s life some day or other. It can “sleep”, until the day will come, when all happy circumstances come together. The religion is “recognition of God and experience of relations with God”2. If a person does not name himself pious, that means only, that understanding and experience of God have not come yet. Sometimes this can happen on person’s death bed, at the last moments of the mortal life. “Christ is faithful as a Son over his house; whose house we are” (Hebr., 3:6). As a rule, in the modern life a person comes to faith under some unhappy circumstances. The suffering soul recovers poise, when the light of the God’s grace descends to it. When at some moment it seems, that there left no strengths to struggle with the hardships, the spiritual experience shows the reality of the divine world. But “not by proving its existence or persuading with every means, that such a world is essential, but by tying him up with living and immediate connection with the religious reality, he sees it”3. And then there left no place for doubts and the soul is filled with the faith.

All people have divine nature, every person has his destination and everybody, if put some efforts, can realize it. Every person has a right to deny it and bear all responsibility for the consequences. Everyone has a chance. We are equal in this. And we are equal in our dreams of better life and longing for being loved. We are united in faith in High Being, loving us. When I started my study of the history of Christianity, I was shaken by the deepness of the idea, lying in the ground of the Orthodox Church construction. It is an antitype of the Heaven at the Earth. It is very important to understand, that it is exact an IMAGE. The antitype can be reached by everyone individually. He, who enters the church, finds in his heart peace and joy, harmony and balance, reconciliation with himself and his own life, belief in his strength. For these to agree with reality every element of the church, every icon is to raise the harmony, motivate to the good. The Good cannot be rationally measured. It penetrates everything. It is God’s victory over the Evil. It is the way to God’s grace.

Every new generation needs a “tuning fork”, such as values and ideals, to be in tune. The icon serves the idea, that the personal “temple” of a human being, that is his body, thoughts and deeds should be in tune with his spirit, and then the harmony reaches his life. “There, in the World of Heaven, - said Yuriy Kuznetsov, - all arouses delight, so the icon should also be like this”.

For the icon to open the spiritual world for our conscious, to show “secret and supernatural things”, an icon painter needs a particular state of mind, his ability to “see” the antitype and create a “container” for the World of Heaven. Yuriy Kuznetsov possesses all these qualities to the full. So the Kuznetsov’s icons can be named a “tuning fork”, which helps a person to feel unusual uplift and even to change his life.

Kristina Kondratieva,
art historian, the author of the Global Art Communications project

1Sergey Bulgakov, Antitype and Image. Saint Petersburg, 1999. V. 1, Page 36.
2Sergey Bulgakov, Antitype and Image. Saint Petersburg, 1999. V. 1, Page 29.
3Sergey Bulgakov, Antitype and Image. Saint Petersburg, 1999. V. 1, Page 29.

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