"Metropolitan John (Zizioulas)"
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An invisible axis connects the gaze of the depicted Metropolitan with the spectator. This gaze looks at us seriously and thoughtfully, and together with the soft wrinkles of the forehead and the ambiguous lips, it is as if they immobilize time and look not exactly at us, but as if they are penetrating our being and exploring something deep and hidden. The painter succeeded with great simplicity in expressing something ontological: the question of the depicted about life and its meaning. The raised eyebrows of the portrait also contribute to this. After all, this very profound look is like wondering: do you really exist, spectator? Is this relationship real? In other words, they allow for hope to transpire in a relationship of the eyes that brings us into a real relationship. It is what we say in theological language: a true eschatological loving relationship of persons.
Here Bishop Maxim surpassed himself and reached the ideal of the orthodox iconographer. And we are left with the right to ask ourselves: could Maxim get there if his long patient and obedient apprenticeship in Metropolitan of Pergamon hadn’t preceded?
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