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January 29, 2016

Red Monastery CACICNIK 

In the last two decades, many Coptic art gems have been revealed to the world, which raises Coptic art to an altogether new level that captures the admiration of not just the expert but the ordinary man and woman, and competes with the best works of art in the world. Most of the newly discovered art comes from the old monasteries of Egypt at the Red Sea and in the Western Desert and Upper Egypt. One of the most beautiful of Coptic art has been revealed at the Red Monastery in Sohag, Upper Egypt. The Copts and the world must thank the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) for its Red Monastery Conservation Project, funded by USAID, and directed by the great Elizabeth Bolman, whose book The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt, is due to be published by Yale University soon.

If you haven’t yet visited the Red Project to see for yourself the newly-revealed art on its walls, the best alternative is to see it through the lens of a spherical camera that simultaneously records 360-degrees of the scene, which creates a 360-video. It needs a skilful professional photographer to make that, and the Slovenian Matjaz Kacicnik is such one: working for ARCE, he created a 360-video that virtually puts you right in the centre of the Church of Saints Bishai and Bigol in the Red Monastery, and allows you to look right, left, up, down, and behind, as if you are standing there.

You can virtually visit the Red Monastery and wonder at its beauty, made possible by Kacicnik, by clicking on this!

Kacicnik writes about the Red Monastery:

Red monastery, the church of Saints Bishai and Bigol, Sohag, Egypt, was the heart of a large monastic community, in a region known as an important center for the ascetic life in the 5th century, C.E. It is an astonishingly rare example of the coloristic intensity of late antique monuments in Egypt. In this church, late antique paintings cover about eighty percent of the walls, niches, columns, pilasters, pediments and apses. The building’s elaborate figural and ornamental paintings, combined with extensive sculpture and monumental architecture, make it the most important historical church in Egypt. Nowhere else in Egypt do we know of a monument of the late antique and early Byzantine period whose architectural sculpture is in situ up to the highest level of the building. Thanks to the remarkable results of this ARCE/USAID conservation project, the monastery is already being mentioned in company with other outstanding Late Antique buildings such as San Vitale (Ravenna), and the Hagia Sophia (Istanbul).




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