Poland shines at international comp with beautiful modern-day icons continuing a long tradition of sacred art

First place was awarded to Stanisław Barbacki for his icon “Three youngsters in a fiery furnace”. Muzeum Podlaskie w Białymstoku

Poland has taken first place at an international competition of modern-day icons organised by the Icon Museum in north-eastern Poland, where most of the country’s small Orthodox Christian minority lives.

Now in its second year, the “New Epiphany of Beauty” competition seeks to collect and preserve 21st Century icons, continuing a long tradition of sacred art.

Second place went to Krystyna Kvik from Ukraine for an icon depicting the Three Kings.Muzeum Podlaskie w Białymstoku

First place was awarded to Stanisław Barbacki for his icon “Three youngsters in a fiery furnace”. Second place went to Krystyna Kvik from Ukraine for an icon depicting the Three Kings.

Vitaliia Zoholobak, also from Ukraine, and Anna Kopeć-Gibas came joint third. Zoholobak’s icon is entitled “Mourning”, while Kopeć-Gibas’ shows St George’s slaying the dragon.

Vitaliia Zoholobak, also from Ukraine, and Anna Kopeć-Gibas came joint third. Kopeć-Gibas’ icon shows St George’s slaying the dragon.Muzeum Podlaskie w Białymstoku

Coming from the Greek work for “image” or “resemblance", icons are religious works of art typical of Eastern Christianity. Often painted on wood, they can also be cast in metal or made using other mediums.

The Icon Museum is based in the Monastery of the Annunciation in the town of Supraśl, which dates back to 1498 and is now one of six Orthodox Christian men’s monasteries in Poland. It is a branch of the Podlasie Museum based in Białystok, the region’s capital.

Zoholobak’s icon pictured here and which also came third is entitled “Mourning”.Muzeum Podlaskie w Białymstoku

With around 1,200, the museum has one of the richest collections of icons in Poland from the past three centuries. Many of the icons depict Christ, Mary and scenes from religious festivals. Visitors can also see an icon corner, a place of worship often found in Orthodox homes, taken from an old house in Podlasie.

“By organising the competition, we want to initiate the creation of a new collection of contemporary icons, thus preserving and documenting the image of sacred art in the 21st century,” the Museum’s website states.

With around 1,200, the museum has one of the richest collections of icons in Poland from the past three centuries.Museum of Icons in Supraśl/Facebook

This time, the competition received 161 entries from Poland, Ukraine and Armenia, among other countries – more than twice as many as the previous year.

Of these, 23 were shortlisted to be evaluated by the jury, made up of the Museum’s director and specialists on architecture and Orthodox theology. 

The Icon Museum is based in the Monastery of the Annunciation in the town of Supraśl, which dates back to 1498 and is now one of six Orthodox Christian men’s monasteries in Poland.Museum of Icons in Supraśl/Facebook

All the icons that made it into the final can be viewed at the Museum until the end of September.

Eventually, the winning icons will be added to a new collection at the Museum dedicated to sacred art in the 21st Century established last year, which will include both traditional and more modern icons.