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"suprematist-symbolism" Tag

Do You Get It?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It was quite hard for me to make a decision about one work of the Russian suprematist artist El Lissitzky, since this extreme emptiness and simplicity in images mostly gives me an uncomfortable feeling of being lost. On the other hand, it can also give me a feeling of structure, of organization and a somewhat mysterious clarity. So my feeling towards these means of visual language is kind of ambiguous. What is very interesting about the confrontation with abstract art, is that you either comprehend the piece (because you’ve read or heard about it or simply because you are part of the very same movement), or you don’t. If you don’t, you have to fill the empty brainspace with your own thoughts and ideas about the suggestion that is made or what is being implicated, which is most of the time impossible to guess without any information since it’s so abstract. How does a person that doesn’t know that Malevich’s Black Square is representing the party perceive the painting? And is it wrong if that person imagines that there is another meaning, just for him? I really don’t know.
I partly like how graphic elements are presented by Lissitzky and how they carry a connotation that has to be detected. They become emblems for and references to something so much more than themselves. So they turn into something completely different and in a way unworldly, but in a very modest, unpretentious way, sometimes even a tad clichéd. One of his propaganda posters in the exposition, “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” from 1919, is especially nice as an example. The red wedge is a symbol for the active bolshevists who are overcoming their rival, the white movement, interestingly enough represented by a white opening in a black background, which is pierced by the red triangle. I like the simple clarity of his choice, but am not a fan of the additional shapes and letters since they are too mysterious for me and disturb the beauty of the image in my eyes. Then again, it’s propaganda.

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