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Ohrid - St Kliment

he church of St Kliment in Ohrid, founded in 1294/5 by the Byzantine official and son-in-law of the Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, Progonos Sgouros, was originally dedicated to the Virgin Peribleptos. The frescoes are the work of two painters from Thessalonike, the Eutychios and Michael Astrapas, whose signatures and monograms may be seen at various points of the painting: on the blade of St Mercurius' sword, for example, is inscribed "cheir Michael tou Astrapa" (by the hand of Michael Astrapas), while the names of both artists are inscribed on the bands decorating the mantle of two other military saints. These two eminent painters from Thessalonike, who were later engaged to adorn a series of churches founded by the kralj Milutin, such as St Niketas at Cucer (before 1316) and St George at Staro Nagoricino (1317), established a school of painting in Serbia. The iconographic programme of the church of St Kliment does not present any particularities. Its upper part is decorated with Christological scenes in continuous zones that are characterised by the drama and intensity of the narrative. In the next, narrower zone, is represented an extensive Mariological cycle , once again in a continuous narration. The large space devoted to the life of the Virgin is due to the fact that the church was initially dedicated to her. Stylistically, the representations in St Kliment are characterised by heavy, massive figures with expressive faces, and by the angular, cubistic rendering of the drapery. The attitudes and movements are intense and dramatic. The wall paintings are generally distinguished by an exaggeration in the use of expressive means and in the rendering of volume. They thus constitute the culminating point of the so-called volume style that begins to emerge in art in the middle of the century, and is characterised by the special emphasis given to the three-dimensional rendering of the figures and the garments.
The monument belongs to the architectural type of the cross-in-square church. It presents such similarity, both in design and in the exterior masonry, to the so-called Kokkine Ekklesia ("red church") in Bulgareli of Epiros so the scholars suggest that these two monuments were built by the same building workshop.