CULTURE

Exhibition on hand-painted ostrich eggs anticipates Easter

The multilayered symbolism of Christian Easter and the celebration of spring that is rooted in pagan traditions has been captured in a group exhibition that is exclusively devoted to eggs. Curated by art historian Iris Kritikou and on view at the Peri Technon Gallery, the exhibition includes works by 28 contemporary Greek artists on painted ostrich eggs, rather than the chicken eggs traditionally used at Easter, a choice which was probably made because their greater size provides a larger surface to paint on. From the curator’s introductory essay in the exhibition’s supplementary small catalog, one learns that ostrich eggs allude to the abandonment of human beings by God and that a pair of large ostrich eggs were often placed in many French churches. The essay also contains interesting information on the symbolism of eggs throughout history, tradition and different cultures. As a symbol of the beginning of life, colored eggs were exchanged during the New Year celebrations in those cultures that celebrated it during the spring. The use of eggs (often red) in the celebration of nature’s rebirth was apparently a custom that goes back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Persian, Greek, Celtic and Roman times. It is through these cultures that red eggs filtered into Christianity; though the red color, according to another theory, is linked to a Jewish custom in which the blood of sheep was used to dye doorways. The cracking of eggs’ ends was also an old custom mentioned in 13th century documents. The exhibition is an opportunity to think about these ancient traditions and their influences across various cultures. Anticipating the spirit of Easter, it reveals the rich symbolism behind a Christian-related custom that has survived right down to the present day. At the Peri Technon Gallery (10 Nikaias & Rizou, Victoria Square, 210.823.9465) through April 23.