Interview with Daniel Neculae 

(Editor’s note: A few years ago we introduced our readers to the luscious work of Daniel Neculae, a Romanian iconographer now living in Luxembourg.  Last year Daniel gave his first workshop in the US which was attended Marek Czarnecki, veteran American iconographer and teacher himself who agreed to conduct and edit this interview for us.)

On Teaching and Learning Iconography. An Interview With Daniel Neculae.

Czarnecki – How were you educated as an iconographer?

Neculae – Before starting University, I learned to draw and paint on my own. I was interested in very realistic drawing and classical painting. I used general subjects at that time, I wasn’t interested in making icons. My only critics were my family. My grandfather was a theologian with a deep love of beauty; he especially encouraged my efforts, but his deepest wish was I become a priest. He taught me how to pray, how to work honestly, to always strive for perfection and absolute beauty. Later, I found all this in Byzantine art.

My preparation began in the church with my spiritual education. Then I studied the techniques of the classical Renaissance painters who attracted me the most. I reproduced their artworks. I think that there is a huge difference between a young man who learns how to draw by studying Da Vinci’s artworks and one who studies drawing after Picasso. In secondary school my teachers were encouraging, but did not have artistic knowledge. I am sure God is always guiding my steps in life, so I see this positively. It motivated me to study more on my own.

It’s important for an iconographer to be an active member of the church and to know its theology very well. I attended an Orthodox theological seminary for 5 years and studied portraiture in my free time. In my first year, God arranged for me to meet an important Romanian iconographer who, after the fall of communism, revived the authentic Byzantine legacy in Romania. I remember seeing one of his icons. I truly felt the presence of Christ right then and there. With joy and fascination, I finally discovered the icon.


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