Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Two Andreis

Andrei Rublev is considered one of the greatest icon painters and his Trinity, ca. 1410, is one of the most well known icons. This icon was painted in memory of St. Sergius, whose whole life was dedicated to the Holy Trinity.  Andrei used to sit in front of the divine and venerable icons at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and elevate his spirit to the immaterial and divine light. It was in this light that Andrei transmitted his icon.

In this icon we can distinguish three levels of reality/history. The first is the Biblical story of the three pilgrims to Abraham and Sarah (Gn 18: 1- 15) upon which this icon is based. The absence of Abraham and Sarah invites us to penetrate deeper into the icon passing into the second level, that of divine economy. The three heavenly pilgrims form the "Eternal Council". The landscape changes meaning as well. The tent of Abraham becomes the temple-palace and the oak becomes the tree of life. The cosmos is represented by the cup. 

The three angels with their wings and elongated bodies give the impression of being weightless. Inverse perspective abolishes distance and depth, bringing the figures to the fore and showing us God is everywhere. The third level, the intradivine, is hinted at. God is love himself, in his triune essence, and his love for the world is the reflection of his trinitarian love.1

The second Andrei, Tarkovsky, is one of the greatest film makers of the contemporary age.

"Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream." - Ingmar Bergman
The films of the great Russian film maker  are now free to view on line. Included is his 1966 film of Andrei Rublev.   Do yourself a favour and spend a couple of hours with this masterpiece.  

1.Description of the Trinity icon taken from: The Art of the Icon: A Theology of Beauty, p 243 - 248

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