At only twenty-nine years of age, Ivan Dashko has a well-developed and mature iconographic style. He chooses somewhat muted color palettes, and the backgrounds he employs are often strikingly simple, sometimes consisting of little more than a bit of texture or a hint of the surrounding environment. While these aspects of his work can be considered slight departures from traditional iconographic style and composition, the postures and gestures of his figures are clearly in line with traditional Orthodox iconography (see www.iconart.com.ua/en/index).
In the scene of the Presentation we see four figures—Joseph, Mary, the Christ Child, and Simeon. (Alas, this must be the moment just before the prophetess Anna made her appearance on the scene, as she is missing from our tableau!) Joseph’s posture, with one foot in front of the other, suggests that he is bringing the turtledoves forward to Simeon for sacrifice, fulfilling the requirements for purification set forth in Leviticus 12. Mary stands next to Joseph, her feet planted firmly together, her hands raised, having just handed her son to the aged Simeon, whose feet are set a shoulder length apart, enabling him to raise the child up, as in offering. Though the Christ Child clearly appears to be more than forty days old, he assumes no gesture of blessing. Instead, he seems simply to take it all in. Perhaps the position of his arms suggests radiance, as of light—“a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel,” as Simeon would say.
May we, too, always stand ready to receive his light, his life, and his mercy.
Ælred Senna, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and associate editor of Give Us This Day.
Presentation by Ivan Dashko