fiery lightning bolts and a black square


How would Malevich, who was fascinated by the discoveries of physics about the incorporeal energy of the universe (gravitation, electricity and radioactivity), have regarded the recent x-ray of his iconic canvas, which revealed that Black Square was painted at urgent speed over another composition made up of polychromatic geometric forms? With time, these underlying colours have begun to show through the craquelures on the square’s surface. The artist had been working on another abstract canvas when he had an overwhelming vision of the black plane. The verbal leitmotif ‘partial eclipse’, which appears in his Fevralist canvases Englishman in Moscow and Composition with Mona Lisa and which had been nagging at him for months, was suddenly transformed into a ‘total eclipse’, the world as nonobjectivity. Although this was a solitary moment of creative intuition, Malevich worked among other artists. Shatskikh analyses his collaborations with avant-garde poets and artists in theatrical productions, exhibitions and the Supremus project, which incorporated a journal (Supremus) and a creative society. Malevich’s legacy is caught up in the chaos of the 20th century, which scattered and erased so much historical treasure.

more from Rachel Polonsky at Literary Review here.