CONTEMPORARY COPTIC ART
The school of contemporary Coptic art was established in Cairo by Isaac Fanous in the 1960s. It reflects the deep roots of ancient Egyptian and Coptic arts combined with the Coptic theology and culture. Icons represent its major production. Wall paintings, mosaics, and stained-glass windows decorate a considerable number of modern Coptic churches.
Other famous iconographers are Youssif Nassif and his wife, Budur Latif, who represent an independent trend and have enriched contemporary Coptic art for more than 35 years. The main themes of this art are Christ, the Holy Virgin Mary, angels, Apostles, martyrs, saints, and biblical scenes, especially the Christological cycle and the Twenty-four Elders.
The latter are usually depicted as part of the iconography of the Pantocrator (“the Almighty”). One of the very popular themes is the flight into Egypt, which often features the River Nile and the pyramids. Copts in Egypt and abroad take pride in that great event.
Contemporary Coptic art avoids scenes of torture and suffering. One of its significant characteristics is the portrayal of the full face and the three-quarters face; the profile is usually used to represent non-beloved persons like Judas Iscariot or the soldiers at the foot of the cross. As in ancient Egyptian art, contemporary Coptic art shows the protagonist, often Christ or the Virgin, larger than the other figures of the scene. As in ancient Coptic art, the figures are accompanied by their names; the heads and eyes are relatively large, and mouth is small. Many artists use blue, red, green, and brown colors set against a golden background.
A number of monks and nuns devote their lives to painting the icons. Coptic emigrants in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia decorate their churches with icons executed by Coptic iconographers from Egypt, a considerable number of which are painted by Isaac Fanous, Youssif Nassif, and Budur Latif.