WORDS AND WOUNDS
In the age of social media, we are aware, more than ever, that nobody is an island. We all find ourselves entwined in a complex web of relationships. Information circulates. Lives are transparent. We feel, as if they were ours, for the struggles of people we will never meet. And yet, a disturbing fact is, contemporaneously, registered across social and geographic borders. We have never had so much trouble understanding each other. We have never been so lonely. The “dream” of John Lennon — a unity between all peoples, without religion or country — was proven, once again, to be deceptively and tragically empty.
Art comes from need, and there is nothing we need more today than to learn, or re-learn, the value of personal relationships, that is, the value of true friendship, both in the natural and in the supernatural arena. For in God’s Heaven too, there is no star without a constellation. \"I led them with human cords, with ropes of love”, says the prophet Hosea. Faith, hope and love — the substance of Christian life — are circulated by the Holy Spirit along the canals of human relationships. Olena Smaha’s contemporary icons bring to light this web of true friendships that nourishes us, guides us and support us when we fall. Ropes of love guiding us in the night. Ropes of love preventing us from falling too low in the ascension of life. Ropes of love to pull each other upwards. Ropes of love stretched between heaven and earth.
In Olena’s latest works, however, there are no more ropes, and no more faces, just the colored surface of the wood, and the markings of the artist. They are not abstract works, though. They do not turn their backs on the previous ones. The artist just got closer, much closer. She zoomed in on the source of all love, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It seems that the artist just followed the “ropes of love” all the way to the end, all the way to the Heart where they are all attached. The Heart to which they lead and from which they spring.
We are surrounded. We are inside. And what do we see, as we peek inside the source of all love, the source of all friendship? Spirit and flesh, words and wounds. This is what Jesus got from opening up his Heart to humanity, from calling us “his friends”: words of prayer and wounds of love. In these latest works, Olena’s icons are stripped to the bones. Humbled to their utmost essence: words and wounds. Not only are they “written” icons (in the traditional sense of the word, since every icon is an icon of the Word-made-flesh), they are scratched icons, gouged icons, wounded icons. We are far from the above-mentioned, dreamy visions of love. We are in front of divine love: carnal, wounded, and personal.
Fr Paul Anel