30/03/2021 – 17/04/2021 Sigita Maslauskaitė-Mažylienė "Acheiropitos" at the VAA gallery Artifex 

Acheiropoieton (a- + Gr. cheir – hand + poietos – made) is an icon or relic not made with human hands. Acheiropoieton is an authentic impression not related to the skills of the painter or human endeavours or abilities to create, produce or imitate. Acheiropoieton is usually a miraculous or spontaneous reproduction or impression on the canvas or sometimes on burial shrouds.

The first recorded reference to an image as “not made by human hands” appeared in Ecclesiastical History by Evagrius Scholasticus in the late 6th century. From the 8th century, within the context of iconoclastic struggles, the miraculous origin of acheiropoieton became the argument used in the defence of icons used when defending the Christian cult images against the accusations of pagan idolatry. The stories bring up an image which is a true testimony to the existence of a person, and, upon coming into existence through the convergence with a prototype image, it becomes a passive expression of the divine identity. In religious art, acheiropoieton represents the very essence of the icon: it is the archetype of the images of saints.

Five acheiropoieta are on display at Artifex Gallery. These are ecclesiastical artifacts created by sunlight. While we can imply the existence of the artist’s touch, but, in line with the acheiropoieta tradition, the artist only plays a background role. The exhibition seeks to tell, here and now, an archetypical story of the (im)possibility of the sacred and “True Image” through the phenomenon of the image “not made by human hands”.