Macedonia is one of the countries with many religious buildings that testify about the significant religious movements and the awakening of a nation like Macedonia.
If you decide to visit Macedonia, it is inevitable not visiting some of the most important churches and monasteries, whose interior is decorated with beautiful and timeless iconostasis that tell stories and legends. Such works have been made and are still made by people who are passionately in love with that profession, a profession that for them is a way of life. We would like to dedicate today’s text to Zlatko Leckovski and Sonja Lechkovska, brother and sister from the village of Rotino in the Bitola region who are tirelessly engaged in icon painting and fresco painting.
The secrets of this craft they learned from their father Ljupcho, and the other techniques were learned in the studio of Nikola Krnchev and Risto Dimovski, students of the famous Russian painter Ivan Melnikov in the temple of the Holy Mother of God in Bitola.
Zlatko has been engaged in this activity for 24 years, and Sonja for 14 years. The love and inspiration for painting saints came from the admiration of the old icons and frescoes made in the Orthodox Byzantine style that adorn the Macedonian churches and monasteries.
They both say that the choice to paint a work is given by the thought. Once you decide what you want to create, follows the preparation for its realization; supply of materials, preparation of the base, priming, plating and making the icon with various techniques – tempera, acrylic, oil paint, and finally, protection with varnish.
For a work to look flawless one needs to be careful while creating it. It starts with painting from the darkest shade, and then with each subsequent layer it is illuminated with transparent azure shades until at the end it is finished with rhythmically drawn strokes called – revival. This means that the icon painting is a work of light where aesthetics and ontology are fused and inseparable.
Zlatko says that in parallel with the painting, also are carried out the spiritual preparation, reading the theology of the icon, the biographies of the saints, patriarchal literature, etc.
According to him, the beauty is that while working, one is concentrated and feels the calmness, the fulfillment, the gratitude, the silence and all similar legitimate feelings offered by the work itself. In the process, one usually thinks about the spiritual content of the icon, about the reverse perspective, about the symbolism of the icon in which the immortal glory and the secret of the Future Century are hidden.
So far they have worked in several churches in the Prespa region: the monastery of St. Naum – in the village of Bolno, the church of St. Petka in the village of Lavci, the monastery of St. Elijah in the village of Kriveni, the church of St. Spas in the village of Krusje, the monastery of St. Spas in the village of Evla, and many others.
In the region of Struga: the church of the Assumption of the Mother of God in the village of Boroec and the monastery of St. Elijah in the village of Globocica.
In their native village Rotino: the church of St. Elijah and the church of St. Nicholas, also the church “Assumption of the Holy Mother of God” in the village Gjavato, the chapel of St. Petka in Gorno Orizari.
They have worked also in the region of Demir-Hisar: the church of St. Elijah in the village of Sladuevo, and the church of Constantine and Elena in the village of Vardino.
Besides in Macedonia they have also worked in several churches in neighboring Greece: church of St. Irina, church of St. Nectarios, church of St. Elijah and the church of St. George in Ovcharani. In Greece, the technique is “canvas on the wall”, which means that the works are made at home on large canvases, then brought and glued to the wall of the church.
Their icons can also be found in various countries across Europe and overseas.