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Visualizing the Sacred

A window into the realm of the Soul.  Messages from a world beyond.  The material embodiment of that which cannot truly be captured by form, and yet is echoed by it.  These ideas are, for me, ever-present in the icon- the artistic representation of the Soul’s yearning to know and be united with the Divine.  And no other culture has reached for such lofty ideals as did that of ancient Egypt, not arguably one of the most religious and sophisticated of humankind’s early civilizations.  This was a culture whose organized history spanned more than 3,000 years, and whose people created a style of sacred art instantly recognizable and never surpassed.


The art of ancient Egypt is visceral. Something about it evokes mystery, magic, the presence of the Eternal. We are captivated by a nature of continuity that breathes through these often strange yet magnetic forms. We identify with the fervent goal of eternal life to which the Egyptians aspired, to which every facet of their civilization was geared.

These were a people who believed in the continuous incarnation of life, who lived in a world where the human and divine met in a dialogue exchanged through massive, sculpted forms, and resplendent golden images. To the ancient Egyptians, image was reality. A statue of a king, a painting of a mythological event, a god’s gilt body inlaid with precious stones. These were not regarded as inanimate objects merely evoking abstract ideas. They were held to be living repositories of sacred power, the conduits through which divine magic flowed and was accessible to be harnessed by human beings.


What we call art in the contemporary age, that is to say, material compositions exploring the personal ideas, beliefs and experiences of an individual artist’s life, did not exist in ancient Egypt. In Egypt there was no such concept as art for art’s sake. To the Egyptians, artistic forms were the compositions of a sacred magical language, a concrete process through which the gods (who created the world) and human beings became co-creators of this and the next life. Within this mode of thinking, “inanimate” objects and substances ceased to be inanimate, and, through an elaborate process of ritual actions and magical recitations, were opened as the possessors of an interior life and force- a force that allowed human beings to directly experience and inherit the very powers of the gods of creation. Thus, three and two-dimensional representations of deities, deified ancestors and guardian spirits, demons and denizens of the Underworld became the very beings they represented, creating a certain blur between the domains of the physical and spiritual, manifesting a “crossing over” of the Spirit into the realm of the flesh.

King Seti I receives the breath of life from the Goddess Auset in his temple at Abydos by Tatiana Matveeva 2016

When we hear the term icon we most probably entertain visions of the Madonna and Child or the Passion of Jesus Christ, and think instantly of the elaborate gilt and jewel-encrusted icons created by the ancient Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox traditions. Although the ancient Egyptians did not create icons on canvas or wood panels in the same fashion as those evidenced in Christianity, they did create religious images in the form of sculptured and painted reliefs, statues in hard stone and gilded wood, and, for the holiest of holies in the monolithic temples, statues in solid gold or silver embodying the spiritual essence of goddesses and gods. It was through the awakened magic of such images that the Egyptians maintained an open channel between the world of the gods and the world of humankind. The production of such images dominated the architectural and artistic industries of ancient Egypt for more than 3,000 years.

I am an artist who is also a believer in the ancient Egyptian system of spirituality. I believe in the goddesses and gods who fueled and inspired the civilization of ancient Egypt, experiencing them not as abstract symbols of mythology, but as living gods, ever-present and co-creating with those who call upon them. In the same mind frame as the master artisans of ancient Egypt, I perceive sacred images as living beings instead of as inanimate objects. For me, as for those ancient craftsmen in the Valley of the Nile, the image of a god or goddess is a vital, energetic and breathing component of the world as an ever-expanding and continuous creation. Each sign, each symbol, hieroglyph and traditional motif is a component of a magical language in which the exchange between human and divine, temporal and Eternal, is made. Each color, texture and form is transformed into a sacred resonance that vibrates within the heart and stirs the mind into consciousness of the Divine.

My artistic life and spiritual practice are not two separate endeavors, but rather a synthesis, a symbiotic relationship wherein the heart’s sacred awakeness is transmitted into the language of artistic expression. Within this relationship exists the principle of giving form and fashion in a very concrete manner to the spiritual visions that form the energetic foundation of a religious and sacred journey. Each of the Netjeru or Gods makes Their presence known to me in an intimate exchange that can begin as flirtation or fascination, then erupt in ecstatic visionary experiences. Each of the ancient deities has her or his own unique colors, symbols, flora and fauna, together with manifold variants in name and iconography that were developed throughout the more than 3,000 years of dynastic Egyptian civilization. My artistic passion is to translate my own visions of the Netjeru into iconic images that place each deity within the framework of their traditional environment of sacred forms and symbols.

These, then, become living spiritual artifacts whose presence can awaken and enthrall the human heart with the awesome reality of the gods and Their magic.

It is my hope that every person who encounters one of my unique icons will be touched with much more than mere curiosity at the strange quality of the Egyptian religious temperament. It is my greatest desire for the viewer to be fully engaged, not only on a cerebral level, but more significantly on a level of heartfelt understanding, where the human spirit is touched with the omnipresence of Divinity and brought into the radiant nature of a self existing in attunement with the Divine Soul.

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