The presence of a painting featuring Patriarch Kirill in the reception hall of the Danilovsky Monastery has sparked controversy among social media users.
After the spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox Church Vladimir Legoida, shared the outcomes of a meeting by the Holy Synod people initially believed that it was a manipulated image intended to tarnish the reputation of the Russian patriarch. However it was later revealed that the painting is a piece and holds a prominent position in the patriarchal residence for everyone to see.
The painting portrays Patriarch Kirill standing against a backdrop of three angels from Andrei Rublevs “Holy Trinity” icon. At his feet lies Holy Rus symbolizing his role as a bridge between heaven and earth—according to the artists interpretation—placed on footing with each member of the Holy Trinity.
While some may view this artwork as kitsch and consider it opportunistic it undeniably conveys a clear message about the prevailing ideology, within the Russian Church at this time.
It’s quite surprising that the grandiosity of the image bordering on sacrilege went unnoticed as problematic. Despite this the painting was prominently displayed in the residence potentially evoking a sense of awe and an understanding of Patriarch Kirill significant role in history for all visitors.
The painting sparked discussions on social media platforms with some taking a satirical approach. One comment humorously: “The Patriarch Kirill already deified and became the fourth person of the Trinity during his lifetime. It is clear that the original Trinity is now obsolete and unnecessary.”
According to more serious remarks the intention was to portray Cyril as a patron saint akin to Abraham being the “father of nations.” However traditional iconography rarely emphasizes Abraham in a manner. He is typically portrayed towards the end. Often in the background rather than, at the center of attention compositionally. Furthermore Abraham is depicted serving and entertaining than “revealing” himself amidst angels. His figure also lacks any emphasis through color accents.
In this case Cyril is portrayed as being on the level as the Holy Trinity and even surpasses it visually overshadowing the central angel and essentially replacing it in terms of composition.
The artist behind this portrait doesn’t really attribute any significance to the Old Testament theophany (the appearance of God). Their focus is not on God but rather, on highlighting Cyrils greatness. This results in a nonsensical situation where from a meaning standpoint Cyril takes precedence over the Trinity. The fact that the patriarch approved hanging this uninspiring “art product” in his residence suggests that he appreciates this portrayal…