This book contributes to the re-emerging field of 'theology through the arts' by proposing a way of approaching one of the most challenging theological concepts - divine timelessness - through the principle of construction of space in the icon. One of the main objectives of this book is to discuss critically the implications of 'reverse perspective', which is especially characteristic of Byzantine and Byzantining art. Drawing on the work of Pavel Florensky, one of the foremost Russian religious philosophers at the beginning of the 20th century, Antonova shows that Florensky's concept of 'supplementary planes' can be used productively within a new approach to the question. Antonova works up new criteria for the understanding of how space and time can be handled in a way that does not reverse standard linear perspective (as conventionally claimed) but acts in its own way to create eternalised images which are not involved with perspective at all. Arguing that the structure of the icon is determined by a conception of God who exits in past, present, and future, simultaneously, Antonova develops an iconography of images done in the Byzantine style both in the East and in the West which is truer to their own cultural context than is generally provided for by western interpretations. This book draws upon philosophy, theology and liturgy to see how relatively abstract notions of a deity beyond time and space enter images made by painters.
Clemena Antonova, Fellow at VLAC (Vlaams Academisch Centrum), the Centre for Advanced Studies of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.
'Antonova's analysis of "reverse perspective" in icons goes far beyond the portrayal of space. It goes to the very heart of the matter of how icons have worked for their users over the centuries.' Martin Kemp, Trinity College, Oxford University, UK 'Dr Antonova’s book devises a way of reading the temporal iconography of Eastern Orthodox images which is truer to their own cultural context than is generally provided for by western interpretations. This is an exciting and highly original book which builds enormously useful intellectual bridges. At a time when there is considerable interest in theories of pictorial representation , this is a major and potentially very influential cross-cultural work. It will certainly be a major contribution to understanding the relation between time and the pictorial image.' Paul Crowther, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland '... this book will delight the specialist and challenge the generalist but regardless will open up any entirely new way of thinking for any reader... Antonova has challenged the temptation to engage with Orthodox iconography with Western artistic eyes and reveals that depth of theological meaning also lies in the artistic method employed in the creation of the icon.' Transitions 'By demonstrating how pictorial space and pictorial time were interrelated through ritual, Antonova forces the reader to understand anew a critical and familiar category of representation, pictorial perspective. Through a critique of 'reverse perspective', explicated most vigorously by Pavel Florensky (1882-1937), Antonova expounds how observer and icon shared an intimate relationship in real time and space through what should be considered embodied viewing: the notion that our senses are tethered to our bodies... One of the many merits of Antonova's book is her meticulous introduction of important theories and theorists into English.' Oxford Art Journal 'Written with vigor and precision...' Speculum