Mixed media, wood
9,84 x 19,69 x 2,76 in
25,0 x 50,0 x 7,0 cm
One of the main elements of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the iconostasis, a wall of icons, which separates the altar – the most sacred part of the church – from the nave, its main body. The iconostasis consists of icons organized according to a traditional order in which every piece has its own particular place.
Osmolovsky mimics this arrangement with the symmetrical wooden panels of the Breads series. The sacred nature of Russian icon paintings on wooden panels is linked here with the traditional sanctification of bread both as a part of the Eucharist and as the most basic food staple in the Russian tradition, representing a last resort in the face of famine. The carved wooden blocks of Osmolovsky’s sculpture imitate the appearance of rye bread, parodying and amplifying the natural holes, cavities and voids in this food. In addition, icons as objects engage in a dialogue with the abstract imagery of the Russian Avant-garde, which surprisingly perpetuated and re-fashioned the legacy of these religious artefacts. Although Russia inherited the tradition from the Byzantine Empire, icons have become one of the most emblematic forms of Russian art, as well as influencing the works of the Russian Avant-garde, both linked, despite initial appearances, by their shared interest in spirituality.