Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
Dionysios Areopagitis
Artistic voice: Byzantine icon painting, 9th century, Constantinople
Encaustic and gold leaf on wood, 32 x 27 cm

»In a decidedly anachronistic way, there is a parallel between Byzantine art and our time. Like us, the Byzantines were interested–obsessed, even–with the question “What is a picture?”. Icons fascinate us because we see them as vibrant vestiges of this obsession with the visual.«

Dr. phil. habil. Sergei Mariev, private lecturer at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Produced in encaustic, this icon depicts Dionysios Areopagitis, a disciple of the Apostle Paul. The lettering pictured calls into question the representability of God. In the Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy (726–843), the writings of Dionysius Areopagitis (which are today regarded to be forgeries by an anonymous author from the early 5th century) were appropriated by Michael II, the emperor of Byzantium, to support his iconoclastic (anti-imagery) position. An icon of the saint at that time, however, could have been proof of the tradition of an iconophile reception of his writings. The encaustic painting technique, replaced by tempera during the Iconoclastic Controversy, would have marked the icon in the 9th century as an old and thus venerable document.

Idea for picture motif in cooperation with Dr. Sergei Mariev