Illumination and Surprise: A Journey Through the Art of Painting and Its Graceful Revelations

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Bishop Maxim - Illumination and Surprise: A Journey Through the Art of Painting and Its Graceful Revelations
Los Angeles—Athens, 2024
228 pp.

The book Illumination and Surprise moves between the wordless impact of intense varieties of images spanning cultures, artistic styles, and poetry with brief reflections curating the reader’s journey through a series of paintings. With his keen inner theological eye and skillful artistry, Bishop Maxim lifts up saints, theologians, scientists, philosophers, politicians, kings, characters from novels, movies, rock stars, ordinary people, and the struggles of war, illumining each in ways that surprise us. Bishop Maxim's paintings and reflections are the offerings of a creative artist and faithful Bishop who paints with joy and the freedom of abandoning himself to the Light of the eschaton of the New Jerusalem. Moving with the consummate skill of a mature artist between traditional Byzantine iconographic style and vivid new impressionistic brushstrokes reminiscent of Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Magritte; from still life that is vibrant with movement; scenes of war that somehow convey harmony and peace, and saints and worldly souls, the artist gradually teases us to try and distinguish the sacred and the profane.

"Bishop Maxim's monograph is an emotional whirlwind (Ίλιγγος, vertigo). It leaves us astonished, reeling, capturing everything in a single image. With mere strokes, he brings the divine to life, unlike any contemporary hagiographer. His work transcends comparison, truly unique in its essence. While many cling to tradition, Bishop Maxim integrates it all, including figures like Tesla, politicians, heads of state, kings, and, of course, saints. His art brings joy, featuring a diverse range of subjects, including strikingly beautiful girls and women, as well as men. His portraits are multifaceted, tying everything together and marrying the irreconcilable. Bravo, and God bless him for his remarkable achievement!"
Christos Yannaras

"Through vivid kaleidoscopic renderings of his encounters with persons and the created world, illumined from within by an uncreated light, translated into paint, Bishop Maxim offers us a lavish charcuterie of color and form revealing the infinite possibilities of doxological expression in response to Holy Wisdom."
Stephen Muse

Bishop Maxim (Vasiljevic) was elected Bishop of Los Angeles and the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2006. He graduated from the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade, in 1993. He completed his Master of Theology at the University of Athens in 1996, and then three years later, in 1999, at the same university, he defended his doctorate in the field of Dogmatics and Patristics. He worked for one year on his post-doctorate in Paris and the Sorbonne in 2003-04, in the field of Byzantine History and Hagiography. During this time, he also delved in the theory and practical application of painting at the French Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. Bishop Maxim is a professor of Patristics and was teaching Christian Anthropology, Byzantine Philosophy, Canon Law, and Dogmatics at various universities and schools. He speaks Greek, French, Russian, and English. He was the editor of “Theology” – Journal of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade. He also leads the Diocesan school of iconography. Bishop Maxim’s scholarly books, studies, and articles include essays on Holy Fathers and Saints; he has also written on the hagiographical and iconographical themes.