What are the original icon pictures called

Kurt Bonner exhibits his icon pictures in the Raika Ludesch

LUDESCH Kurt Bonner started painting very early. His parents owned a paper and leather goods store in Bludenz. “My parents didn't have much time for us, but we had every opportunity to do drawing and handicrafts,” recalls Bonner. The icon painting actually came about by chance. Bonner and Willi Pastella painted icons for restaurateur Roman Wirnsperger. He learned how to make old pictures from a Spaniard who was his guest. At that time he was not yet aware of the real meaning of icons.

However, his interest in icon painting never let go of him. He then dealt in detail with the background: “In the Byzantine region - Russia, Serbia, Greece and Romania - icons are images of saints whose motifs have been approved by the Orthodox Church. That is why you will find the same representations everywhere, because icons are always replicated. They are painted on wood, chalk ground and gold leaf. Personally, I am fascinated by the ancient art of egg tempera painting, i.e. with egg yolks and colored powder, which have almost been forgotten. I'm looking for motifs from museums and monasteries that appeal to me. When I paint, I try to get as close as possible to the originals, ”says the artist, explaining his approach.

His wife Marlene arranged for him to stay with Father Gregorius on Athos for his 50th birthday. In the meantime he has been there four times. The lessons shaped him very much, because it was there that he got to know the subtleties of Byzantine color theory. "Icon painting is not a creative work, but rather handicraft work," emphasizes Bonner. But it is also a job that requires a lot of patience. He spends at least 30 hours on a single icon.

First a board has to be prepared, this is old wood from farmhouses, around 200 years old. This is planed and given at least ten coats of a Levkas base, a mixture of bone glue and chalk. This ground is then sanded just as often. Then the outline of the icon is drawn, the gilding is applied and then the motif is applied with egg tempera going from the dark to the light. After three to four months, the picture can be painted. If the icon is also to look old, it must also be patinated.

In addition to icons, Kurt Bonner paints landscape portraits in tempera or watercolors as well as watercolors. He also likes to draw with a pencil.

A selection of his numerous icons can currently be seen in the Raika Ludesch until Saturday, May 4th. “We want to give special people from our region a chance to exhibit with us. This is a great addition: the artist can present his exhibition and bring his works of art to a wider public, and for us an exhibition brings life to our bank premises, ”explains Lorenz Türtscher, branch manager of the Raika, enthusiastically. BI