While wanting to be faithful to the Russian tradition of icon painting, Ludmila Pawlowska seeks a new way of expressing what Matisse (when he discovered icons) termed “luminosity and devotion.” Her own Orthodox faith and cultural heritage (she was born in Kazakhstan and has been influenced by art movements in Sweden, where she lives) shape her exploration. “God is not an idea, and praying is not an exercise to improve our idea of God,” she says. She calls an icon a kind of prayer—“the cultivation of the awareness of God’s actual presence.”
From the terrace, I can see the work of your fingers: the constellation Perseus, his sword, trailing the sea, fixed against the sky. The masterwork of light which lingers on the surface of the sea transfixes me.
The nightfall has blurred the place where your fingers bind ocean to air. Stepping off the dock, I shiver against the water, unmindful of my face, hushed and pale and unaware. And, who am I—quivering—
that you would give me heed? A moon-jelly ribboning beneath my feet glows faint like a ghost, its green light tangled in the weeds.