Paintings in the Church Altar Area
The Church of San Sebastiano in Maniace (Catania) offers a large iconographic program of a total area of more than one hundred square meters. The paintings can be divided into two groups. The first corresponds to the area of the altar, the second - the Via Crucis.
The Altar Area includes the altarpiece, a cm. 275x 721 wooden panel; two semi-cylindrical niches size cm. 300x250. At the top a star with a diameter of cm. 400. The complex also includes an oval painting of the Mother of God, cm. 103x75, an icon of Christ that breaks the bread, a double-faced processional crucifix and two long and narrow panels of the altar table.
The composition of the central panel has as its theme: "The Church awaits the return of Christ" and it develops the scheme of Deesis (the Intercession) with in the center the Throne of Hetoimasia to which, addressed in an attitude of supplication, follow the Mother of God and St. John the Baptist, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel and the Apostles. The background with elements of architecture symbolizes the heavenly Jerusalem, all projected on a yellow sky, a symbol of the divine light as in the golden mosaics of the great cathedrals.
On top a eight points star-shaped panel to with a diameter of cm. 400 presents the Christ in Glory, that remembers the Pantocrator of Byzantine domes or in the main apse of the Norman churches of Sicily.
The right niche is divided into two compositions: top "The Wedding at Cana" and under "The Adoration of the Magi". The left niche houses an impressive stone sculpture that contains the ciborium. This has influenced the pictorial composition – on the sides of the sculpture there are two archangels as guards; on top - two seraphim at the ends of a protecting veil. All on a yellow background that evokes the golden fund of the mosaics of the Norman churches of Palermo, Monreale and Cefalù.
An icon of Christ breaking bread serves as the door to the ciborium. At the center of the right niche, the icon of the Mother of God of the Sign. Together the two icons on the left and right of the altarpiece, though of different sizes and shapes, evokes the imperial icons in Byzantine churches.
A double-faced processional crucifix is exposed before the altar. Two long and narrow panels are located on the base of the altar table.
San Sebastiano Church in Maniace – Via Crucis
The Church of San Sebastiano in Maniace (Catania) offers a large iconographic program of a total area of more than one hundred square meters. The paintings can be divided into two groups. The first corresponds to the area of the altar, the second - the Way of the Cross.
The complex is set in a Byzantine style. Not really Byzantine painting, but inspired by the great tradition of Eastern Christianity. This choice is due to a double motivation. On the one hand, the demand of the pictorial style was oriented towards the Byzantine tradition. On the other hand, my willingness to propose the Byzantine language of painting, in the belief that it can be a source of inspiration for contemporary religious art, after all iconoclastic experience of the twentieth century.
The modern structure of the church, along with its strong brightness, ensured by extensive surface of windows, influenced the choice of the color range and intensity of the contrasts of pictorial compositions. So, no longer the dark blue of the frescoes of the Byzantine churches, but the idea of gold of the great basilicas of Sicily.
WAY OF THE CROSS
The iconographic cycle consists of 14 panels, cm. 110x100 plus the scene of the Resurrection in the Byzantine key, that is the Descent into Hell. The interior, quite round shape, of the church has suggested the idea of linking the stations, which start from the altar and arrive back to the altar, with a band on which is painted a rope as a symbol of the unity of the Christian community. On this band there are medallions in which is represented a long series of Holy Martyrs. Initially it was thought to represent only the Holy Sicilians Martyrs, who are many, although some do not have artistic aspect consecrated in the iconographic tradition. During the work, I abandoned this idea, at the behest of the local community, and have been represented the most famous and revered martyrs of Christianity. Here the martyr is meant in its initial meaning of the word , in Greek μαρτύριον signifies the witness, that is, one who takes up his own cross and follow Christ. The martyrs are the witnesses of the faith and of the cross. They are presented with the cross in hand, a symbol of martyrdom, of union with Christ in the Via Crucis.