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The Hard Work of Re-Establishing an Artistic Tradition - The Icons of Dr Stephane Rene


Some NLM readers will be aware of the Neo-Coptic iconography of Dr Stephane Rene. He is one of the main figures in the group of iconographers who are working to maintain the momentum of the revival of the Coptic style of iconography, a student of the man who is generally seen as responsible for reestablishing Coptic iconography in the mid-20th century, the late Dr Isaac Fanous.

In my opinion, the Coptic revival demonstrates just how a tradition can not only be re-established after a hiatus in practice, but it can be done so in such a way that the new work surpasses the quality of the old. This latter point is just a personal opinion, but I am struck by how powerfully distinctive and instantly recognizable the neo-Coptic style is. It participates in the tradition of Coptic iconography, but at the same time has a wide appeal to contemporary Christians from other rites and churches, as well as, presumably, Coptic Christians. I have seen Stephane’s icons in Catholic churches on a number of occasions, for example.

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