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New art damns war’s lie

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Artist Michael Galovic photographed on 16 March 2016 with his wife, Sylvia. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Leading iconographer and artist Michael Galovic has created his own deeply-felt response to the war in Ukraine in his latest work, Ukraine Response.

The artwork (pictured at right) using egg tempera, gold leaf and linen skilfully incorporates three powerful images drawn from the ancient Christian and Jewish worlds, superimposed on Pablo Picasso’s famous anti-war work depiction of the destruction of Guernica.

At the top the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of Kyiv, is shown defeating Satan in the form of a dragon, as described in Scripture and imagined in the medieval illuminated manuscript Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

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In the centre is an icon of the Theotokos and infant Jesus. The Virgin Mary is revered in Ukraine as its ‘Queen’, while Pope Francis this year consecrated to her the church and all humanity, especially Ukraine and Russia.

Ukraine Response, the latest work by artist Michael Galovic. Image: Michael Galovic
Ukraine Response, the latest work by artist Michael Galovic. Image: Michael Galovic

At the bottom of the artwork is a reproduction of an image of hell being locked by an angel from the 12th century Winchester Psalter.

The traditional images are overlaid on Galovic’s reproduction of Picasso’s depiction of the 1937 destruction by bombing of Guernica in Spain.

“The war or aggression in Ukraine is a multilayered affair, quite complex and political analysts keep giving us new information and angles. But what cannot be disputed is the suffering of the victims of this and of all wars,” said Michael.

“I was profoundly touched by seeing in the media the suffering and plight of so many innocent people, particularly the elderly, women and children, infants. So my Ukraine Response is dedicated to those victims as to all the victims of all grotesque and absurd wars throughout the globe, not only in Ukraine.

“Being an iconographer, naturally I had to include the image of a traditional icon of Mary with Child, being the principal image for the Ukrainian Church, and the image that so many Christians in the world are constantly praying to for so many things, most of all, peace and cessation of the hostilities.

“Picasso was responding to the bombing of Guernica but he was also anti-war in general. And I am partly paying homage to him as my favourite contemporary artist, but there are many reasons why this work is very multi-layered and personally important to me.”

Ukraine Response forms part of the collection at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra.

Michael will be present at a special exhibition of some of his newest icons opening at 4pm on Sunday 14 August, running until 20 August at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Figtree Road, Hunters Hill.

Details at

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