Summary Jan Verdonk
My name is Jan Verdonk, theologian, and icon painter by profession.
As a theologian I specialized in Byzantine church history. The dogma fascinated me. I wondered who had been right and who had been wrong during the Great Schism, and other similar questions. I know the answer now. I have become an orthodox. In 1983 I graduated on orthodoxy at Amsterdam University.
In 1991 I met icon painter Neoklis Kolliopoulos in Athens. Round 1980 Neoklis was one of the first Greek icon painters to work skilfully and meticulously by the guidelines of the Cretan School, which had its hey-day between 1400 and 1600. Bright, warm colours, regal figures and solemn facial expressions are characteristic of this school.
I knew the Cretan school from the museums. I was fascinated. Neoklis offered to teach me and so I received my education in his studio. The technical side consisted of woodworking, priming with chalk and animal skin glue, gilding and making egg tempera paint - in a word, the entire process that has been used for 1400 years and was handed down by the monks of Athos.
Back in Amsterdam I immediately started my own practice. From of a theologian I became an icon painter. To expand my knowledge I followed workshops with Bernard Frinking for a number of years. In the 1960s Bernard Frinking was a student of one of the great innovators in Russian icon painting, Leonid Ouspensky. However, I remained faithful – very faithful – to the Cretan style.
Neoklis no longer paints. He was a very good teacher. Now I am a teacher myself.