152 Ouspensky, 1992, p. 346-347.
153 Quenot, 1991, p. 91.

Eliminating the Personality of the Icon Painter

Key to the understanding of the process of painting icons is the idea that the icon painters must eliminate their personality from their work. The basis of this idea is that individual personality in an icon would be distracting.154 Yet, this is inconsistent with much of the communication between God and man. The biblical writers often identified themselves and their personalities were evident in their writings. Ironically, the subjects in the icon itself are identified personally. Maybe if the iconographer considered himself a saint, he would feel it could be appropriate to be identified. In any case, it is considered inappropriate for the iconographer to identify himself in any way, either through technique or by actually signing the project. This seems inconsistent even with the biblical writings where the authors often identified themselves. The necessity of identity is, however, more an emphasis of western individualism and autonomy than a biblical principle. It just seems that enforced anonymity has the tendency to be non-incarnational. This tension exists in almost every area of practices surrounding icons.

Problems Related to the Iconostasis

According to Orthodox teaching, the iconostasis tells the story of how we are able to directly approach the holy of holies. Though it appears as a barrier, the icons are meant to be windows to the truth, more than a wall separating us from this truth. It opens the door to the faithful.155 Yet this seems a possible contradiction in that only the clergy are allowed to enter through the royal door into the sanctuary. This reflects Old Testament restrictions on who may enter the Holy of Holies.