Saint Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, Russia
The Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, constructed in St. Petersburg upon the project of an outstanding architect V. A. Kosyakov, is a unique example of Byzantine style in Russian architecture. Ecclesiastical architecture of 6th-century Constantinople as though came alive in early 20th century St. Petersburg. Employing the method of archaeological imitation, the architect used the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus in Istanbul as a base for his work. The ecclesiastical art of the “golden age” of Justinian the Great manifested the archetypes of Orthodox spirituality more accurately and deeper than anything else created by Byzantine artists of other epochs. It was the time when the main architectural concept of Eastern Christian Church — creating a centrally-planned building topped with a dome — was crystallized and implemented.
Today the Church is consecrated and magnifesently restored. Numerous recently published reference and art history books mention the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Istanbul as its architectural model, which is absolutely incorrect. It suffices to say that, unlike Hagia Sophia, both the church in St. Petersburg and Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus are octagonal inside, with a two-tier gallery around and alternating rectangular and semicircular niches, and their architectural concept create a distinctly Byzantine sense of rhythm. In such a space an individual perceives himself as the only solid body, the centre of impenetrable perfection of the world which is incessantly created by the heavenly Wisdom.
Byzantine and Russian styles developed in Russia within the framework of historicism in art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the basis of government order and presented the manifestation of civilizational foundations of Russian culture and embodiment of Orthodox succession between Byzantium and Russia. The most important component of such a succession was the idea of a human being, the purpose and meaning of human life, and human place in the Universe.
The Orthodox medieval art cannot be interpreted in the same way as modern European: it has a different nature — not aesthetic, but ascetic — and is fed not by mundane, but by heavenly Beauty.