The text I’m reviewing is a short video by Cathy Locke (see below) summarising Kazimir Malevich’s life and career, and highlighting the key ideas and works that would eventually constitute the theoretical underpinnings of non-objective, or abstract art.
Malevich is most known for his works that concentrated on the exploration of pure geometric forms (squares, triangles, and circles) and their relationships to each other and within the pictorial space.
In this video Locke talks of Malevich’s belief that the cubists didn’t go far enough and which spurred him to create a new art. Art that transcends subject matter so the truth of shape and color should reign ‘supreme’ over the image or narrative. Hence the birth of Suprematism.
Malevich also believed his compositions proclaimed that while paintings were composed of flat, abstract areas of paint, they also served up powerful and multi-layered symbols and mystical feelings of time and space.
While watching the video made by Locke I was taken with the following description of Supremus #58, of which could apply to many of Malevich’s paintings.
With regard to the painting Locke considers that Supremus #58 obeys no physical laws, there is no up or down therefore the painting is not ruled by gravity and if you were to go further you might consider/see these forms as existing in space.
Further it describes cosmic space as in the weightlessness of pure form, according to the law of physics!
And it is apparent that Malevich was looking to the cosmos, as early on in the 20th century mankind was starting to seriously consider space travel as viable and in this Malevich started to conceive of Suprematism as a way towards a new spiritual/cosmic religion.
This idea of there being no top or bottom to the works brought to mind my yellow paintings (see below) which were the breakthrough works that led to the recent work shown in the January submission. Unlike Malevich’s works that looked for meaning outside of the everyday, my paintings reference forms and patterns that we encounter in our day to day lives, where we meet is in there being no right or wrong way up.
Further, it occurs to me that the final arrangement of the work is a key part of my process. What goes before is very different to how Malevich does but in that the arrangement happens last then that is where we might agree. Because the paintings are fluid, it is a matter of considering the space and how it is situated with regard to location, space and light as well as the mundane fixtures and fittings and lastly but not least other works of art.
So what does this all mean, well I think I need to consider again Malevich’s ideas and perhaps look to the cosmos, or maybe its a matter of physics. What is energising is that as you can see from the demonstration below there are endless possibilities for composition within and with-out of the frame.
Cathy Locke’s Russian Art Tour, Kazimir Malevich: A Visionary’s Tragic Journey.Youtube video. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfNSOqtMxXs.
Kazimir Malevich. Suprematism. (supremus #58. Yellow and Black). 1916. Oil on canvas. 79.5 x 70.5 cm The Russian Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.
Morrison, Leanne. (2016) The Yellow Paintings. Photo montage of the three paintings that make up the series.