G. Chubinashvili National Research Centre for the History
of Georgian Art and Monument Protection, Tbilisi, Georgia
The Representation of the Last Judgment in the Ikvi Murals
The murals of the Church of St George in Ikvi present quite unusual version of the “Last Judgment” (13th c.). Alongside with typical scenes of the “Last Judgment” the “Entry of Christ into Jerusalem” appears. It occupies the first tier of the painting attracting a very special attention by its location and increased scale of the composition.
The present paper is dedicated to the symbolic interpretation of this composition; along with the semantic understanding of this scene the special accent is given to its specific ‘working’ in the real space.
The inclusion of this composition into the Hades scenes is explained by the influence of the religious literature upon the painting — the hymnography and liturgical texts become the key point for understanding of its significance. It seems though, the contemporary Georgian Hymnography gives the immediate literary sources for interpreting the Ikvi image the “Entry of Christ into Jerusalem “ is linked with the story of rescue of the Prophet Jonah and the story of the Jews’ crossing the Red Sea, symbolically eluding to the defeating of the Hades. This association of the victory over the death (Hell) seems to be palpably reflected in the Ikvi murals, since the “Entry into Jerusalem” is juxtaposed here to the richly illustrated scenes of the Hell.
Along with the subject itself (Adventus), the stylistic feature of the image is of crucial importance. It seems that the structure of the composition reflects this triumphal context. The representation of citizens of Jerusalem (though badly damaged today) presented on the edge of the composition suggested a strong sense of movement from left to right, as if guiding the viewer from the entrance of the church to the inner space. What highlights this impression is that, the figures were directly applied on the surface of the angle of the pilaster developing the impression of ‘descending’ into the real space visually passing the ‘boundary’ of the architectural ‘framing’ unifying the depicted image and the real space of the church. This dynamicity of the Adventus scene is totally transforming the painting of the western arm — destroying the Hades and changing it into the image of Salvation.