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SEE THE INVISIBLE: The spirituality of Russian icons in Vicenza

SEE THE INVISIBLE: The spirituality of Russian icons in Vicenza. Gallerie d'Italia Vicenza host one of the largest collections of Russian icons in the West by number of works and the presence of rare masterpieces

"See the invisible" is the new exhibit of Russian icons on display at the Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza. The exhibition includes 70 Russian icons from Intesa Sanpaolo's collection, displayed in a renovated permanent space that through 3 July 2022 will be part of a dialogue with the works of contemporary artist Valery Koshlyakov.

The new space in the Gallere d'Italia museum in Vicenza has been designed to house the icons and tell their stories through innovative displays.

The first room of the immersive, multi-sensory exhibit welcomes visitors at the beginning of their visual journey into Orthodox Russian spirituality, in which they see the icons as living organisms and not as artefacts.

The second room, in addition to the collection's most representative icons, contains around 30 paintings arranged so as to provide a sort of iconostasis: the wall that in Orthodox churches separates the area dedicated to the faithful from that which is only accessible to the priests.

The third room, in addition to Russian icons, contains the exhibit “Celestial architectures”, composed of a set of site specific ikonosy by Valery Koshlyakov, one of Russia's foremost living artists. Ikonosy are small three-dimensional "models" made from recycled materials that evoke the icon's spiritual and architectural traits. Some of the ikonosy on display were specially created by the artist in close dialogue with four icons selected from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection.

In the fourth and last room, together with didactic content on the techniques of icon making, the visitors will find metal coverings – rize and basme – which have protected and embellished the painted panels over the centuries.

The exhibition concludes with a multimedia touchscreen installation which provides essential information about the icons and their phases of creation, with a specific focus on menologues, icons that represent the saints and religious festivals of the liturgical calendar.

Also new is the vault in which the icons of the collection not presented in the exhibition halls are kept, available (on request) to scholars and connoisseurs.

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