The Art of Seeing explores sacred images in light of Orthodox theology, making special use of perspectives and insights from the patristic interpretation of sacred texts. Drawing on the disciplines of art history, aesthetics, and theology, this innovative study explores the phenomenon of paradox-at once artistic, visual, and cognitive-through which sacred images disturb the eye and provoke the mind to reflection. Like a detour made necessary by an insurmountable obstacle, the paradox of the image marks the way, the mysterious path of ascent, but it also marks a place, for it is the irruption into the world of something beyond the world. In seeking presence over representation, the icon aims to deepen perception into the awareness that the absence of visual resemblance has the power to virtualize within itself resemblance to the invisible God.
I just started this book, but I am enjoying it immensely. I heard of Fr Constas from an interview on Jonathan Pageau’s “The Symbolic World” podcast, and it was fortunate that I did, because I was looking for a book talking about icons. I wanted something that explained the Orthodox theology of icons, as well as discussions of common motifs in icons in depth. The writing is clear and I can tell that the author has a deep understanding of theology. I find myself rereading sections to gain a better understanding but that is more a reflection of my lack of understanding of the topic and not the author’s style. Overall, I would very highly recommend this book to anyone seeking a more in depth understanding of icons, and how they reflect teachings of the Orthodox (and to some extent Catholic) faith.