By Ian Heath
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Extra resources for Armies of the Middle Ages
The art of Petrov-Vodkin is opposed to Impressionism, characterised by the vibration and contrast of colour. Their only resemblance is that both are based on the principle of complementary colours. One cannot see in Petrov-Vodkin’s paintings this original element of colour, this ‘dust of colour’ that one finds in the work of Larionov, for example. This ‘pictorial utilisation of colour’ as Malevich would have said, is limited to three elements: red, blue and yellow, primary colours that cannot be dispersed and from which originate all the richness of tone.
Beyond this self-deification, this replacement of God by the God-Man, one could see a resolved attitude towards the world, an imperfect creation that one should remake. Malevich was not alone in defending this position. In 1906, an exhibition by the Leonardo da Vinci society was held in Moscow. The preface of the exhibition catalogue contained these lines by the poet Viktor Hoffman: ‘But Art does not only equal the world, it is more admirable than the world. The world was not a success and God himself, under the appearance of the Devil, whistles at the failure of his creation.
Malevich was constantly in conflict with Tatlin, and Filonov disowned them all while they all in turn rejected Petrov-Vodkin. Looking back at this period, one observes all these masters going in the same direction, although along different paths. In his thesis about transcending visual attraction and gravity, Malevich managed to express the great principle of the new ‘comprehension of space’ that unites them all. Larionov’s Rayonism, Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, Malevich’s Suprematism and Filonov’s Analytical Method were, despite all theirs differences, systems based on the principle of transcending attraction.
Armies of the Middle Ages by Ian Heath