Kasimir Malevich Complex Presentiment
Kasimir Malevich's 1928 Complex Presentiment is a remarkable abstract painting that remains grounded in a sublime figurative perfection. It is a utopian hope of an imminent future, of a stripped-down, bare-bones reality whereby shapes are reduced to their most elemental dimensions. Malevich was one of the primary figureheads of the twentieth-century Russian avant-garde, giving birth to a form of abstract painting known as Suprematism, and playing a key role in the evolution of modern art, comparable to that of Kandinsky and Mondrian. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Malevich redoubled his artistic activity. First teaching at the Academy of Moscow, Malevich founded the first school dedicated to modern art in Vitebsk. Around the time that Complex Presentiment was painted, the trailblazing Russian avant-garde was in decline with the onset of the Stalinist era and with it the rejection of any elements deemed as 'formalism'. As such Malevich lost his teaching position in 1926 and undertook a position at the State Institute of Art History.
In the spring of 1927, Malevich was granted a visa and traveled via Warsaw to Berlin , where 70 paintings were being shown at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition at the Galerie van Diemen Architektona. In Dessau , he visited the Bauhaus school and oversaw the publication of his book The Non-Objective World. Yet contrary to his expectations Malevich found that the Bauhaus style had outpaced that of Suprematism, which with a philosophical system of knowledge of the world appeared rather outdated in Germany at this time. In Dessau the Dutch group De Stijl, as led by Mondrian, were in fashion, and Malevich may well have created his Complex Presentiment in response to the works he found during his travels. Originally Mondrian had used Malevich's works as the basis for his new style, but having found himself saturated with the growing conservatism of his nation, the artist returned to the USSR in disgrace and at a crisis point in his career. Returning once more to figurative painting, Malevich's works of this period are a subtle fusing of the surface elements of mid-1920s European modernism, a combination which results here in a remarkable visual impression. Although feeling himself to be overtaken by his peers and supressed by the creeping onset of Stalinism, Malevich's supreme abstract vision shines through in this majestic balancing act of form, function, and fusion.
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