From Warmth to Light | Ivan Pokidyshev

Engage Art | Artist to Artist, Faith, In the Know, Reflection & Growth | January 31, 2023

From my first shots, I was fascinated by thermograms. Infrared thermography (IRT) or thermal imaging is a process where a thermal camera captures an image based on infrared radiation. Any object with a temperature above absolute zero (-273.15*C or -459.67*F) produces infrared radiation. In these photos, the warmer the thing, the brighter it appears. In addition, warm objects look like they glow from the inside—as if they don’t reflect light; as if they are the light.  

Manifestation by Ivan Pokidyshev

Visually, light viewed this way is related to the tradition of Eastern Orthodox iconography. In these icons, light has a special meaning related to what we call “hesychasm”— a contemplative monastic practice in which participants seek divine quietness through uninterrupted prayer with their body, mind, and soul.

You may have noticed that all the people and objects depicted in icons have no shadows. This lack of shadows symbolizes their communion with God, their belonging to the Divine light. They have become light bearing—actually bringing the light themselves, which they can do because they are lit by God from within, not reflecting light but displaying inner divine light.

Don't Look by Ivan Pokidyshev

My first thermographic project was about the conflict between heat and cold. In it, light played an auxiliary role and helped to visualize heat. In later works, I gradually abandoned the drama of heat and cold, and the main theme of my works became a conflict between light and black emptiness. My work has become about light.

Purification by Ivan Pokidysheb

My Light and Warmth Project was first exhibited in 2018. The focus of the project was heat exchange as a form of human communication—with other people and the world around them. Thermography as an art medium was perfect for visualizing this process.

Sisters by Ivan Pokidyshev

The warm light that we can see in the thermograms initially performed only a mediating role as it allows us to see the human heat, the vital energy overflowing from one figure to another, expansively splashing out, or, on the contrary, fading under the influence of emptiness and cold.

Heat Seller by Ivan Pokidyshev

By and by, the conflict between warmth and cold stepped back in my works. Light, on the contrary, became not only an auxiliary and shaping mechanism but also a semantic and artistic category. Now I design my works based on these two principles in opposition—the glow that illuminates a man from the inside and the dark emptiness outside.

What is There? by Ivan Pokidyshev

What does it mean? Maybe spiritual struggle, the existential drama of life, humanity’s ode to the beauty and strength of man? When you look at these images, what speaks to you? If you are fascinated by the fragile, vulnerable beauty and at the same time, the strength of the characters, then I have conveyed enough.

Little Lights by Ivan Pokidyshev

Ivan Pokidyshev was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1993, and he comes from the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. He was trained at the Academic Art Lyceum and the St. Petersburg Academy of Art, where he now teaches. Although he’s still under 30, Ivan has had more than a dozen exhibitions, two solo shows, and his artwork “The Way” is in the Russian State Hermitage Museum Collection. In addition, he won 2nd place in the 2022 Engage Art Contest in Visual Arts.

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