Kazimir Malevich

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Kazimir Malevich
Self Portrait 1908-1910

Four months ago in September, I visited an art exhibition at Tate modern in London. I’ve never been a fan of art exhibitions as I simply think paint splashes on a canvas is boring and not interesting at all, some part of me still thinks this today about certain exhibitions. A few months went on and I familiarised myself more with art and those types of exhibitions. I realised I had little understanding about this creative industry. It wasn’t all about ‘paint splashed’ on a canvas, there was a lot more to it, and it ended up fascinating me. A friend of mine invited me to go to an exhibition with her, she is an art student, and so I ended up going with her to Kazimir Malevichs exhibition ‘Revolutionary of Russian art’. Kazimir is the creator of the suprematist ‘Black Square’, the first and last word in abstraction, painting absolute nothing in the shape of a black square. The exhibition was filled with a few venues, each presenting different aspects of Malevich’s remarkable career from October 2013 to October 2014.

By the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Malevich started moving away from painting oil on canvas. He said that ‘Painting died, like the old regime, because it was an organic part of it’. A room placed with his paintings all around it, immediately gives the viewer a deep understanding of his work, so my friend told me. I could say for artists only (as all of this baffled me!).

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Kazimir Malevich
Suprematism 1915

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Kazimir Malevich
Dynamic Suprematism 1915 or 1916
Oil on canvas
support: 803 x 800 mm frame: 1015 x 1015 x 80 mm

As I moved through the surrounding spaces I saw what was displayed high up across a corner of the room, a ‘Black Square’ (not  the original, as it is too fragile to move). It has a strange magnetic presence and seems to exert a gravitational pull on the paintings around it, their lines and blocks of colour appearing to migrate across the canvas.

There is little that’s particularly compelling in the square motif itself, the painting technique is nothing very special, the materials that were used to make it was oil on canvas, which is very ordinary. ‘Black Square’ is a landmark of modernism because by reducing painting to a simple geometric shape and a single colour (or lack of it) Malevich removed all references to the things art had always been about, among them representation, nature and emotional content.

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‘Black Square’ 1929 (Original)

Once In Moscow in December 1915, when the ‘Black Square’ was first shown as part of a group of 39 abstract paintings,it was placed at the top of a wall in a corner. Kazimir Malevichs supreme work presiding over the rest of the pictures that were there.

By producing this piece of work, Kazimir has changed the questions viewers ask about the work of art. Until the picture of the black square came into existence, people would look at a paintings and ask what it showed and how the artist showed it. But the subject, composition and painting technique isn’t whats important about a black square. So this lead me to think,  Why, since it refers nothing outside itself, is it a work of art at all?

“Our world of art has become new, non-objective, pure,” – Kazimir Malevich


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Malevich (1878 – 1935) -Supremus No. 55 1916

At the start of the exhibition, I didn’t completely comprehend the meaning of Kazimirs work as there is so much placed around you, its too much to take in at once. To be honest, the only thing i liked were the colours within the shapes that i saw. This is because I was never really interested in art exhibitions, I found them complicated and they always came across to me as chaos. However I did enjoy looking at the fine abstract arranged within some of Kazimirs work, and left the exhibition with a better understand about the art industry.


References

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/kazimir-malevich-1561 Viewed 5/12/14

Quote can be found on link below:

http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/exhibitions/malevich-tate-modern–exhibition-review-9608561.html Viewed 5/12/14

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