Suprematism

The main thing that occurs to me in the Tate’s Malevich exhibition is the extent to which is work contains multitudes; the same geometrical abstraction as Mondrian versus the same cubo-futurism as Braque and Severini, Schwitteresque collages or even the Magrittesque surrealism of some of his works likeCow and Violin. The earlier work uses many of the idioms of Cubism and Futurism in terms of deconstructing its subjects into geometrical planes in motion but whereas Italian Futurist had a cult of the machine, Malevich’s work often dwells on rural subjects like the painting of a scyther or a village after a snowstorm (one or two of them rather remind me of Stanley Spender in the chunky depiction of the peasants). There’s something in his abstract works that reminds me of Kandinsky, the way that cross symbolism recurs throughout multiple paintings. Equally, his architecton models remind me of the hypothetical architecture of Fenriss or the set designs for Metropolis. The attempt to relocate art from the abstract to concrete crafts (as with the suprematist teapot) is ultimately a dead-end though; the last works resemble Renaissance portraits, perhaps of characters in dress from one of Malevich’s operas. The following week and I’m in Oxford for the Ashmolean’s Tutankhamun exhibition. This largely dwells on the details of Carter’s exhibition; how the tomb was laid out, the original photographs used to record it, Carter’s drawings of the tomb frescos and the resultant Tutmania that ranged from records to board games. The Egyptian sculpture inevitably stands out though; a relief showing the Pharoah Horumheb at prayer, a statue of Tutankhamun and a replica of the funerary mask.

I’ve been to a few Proms this year; Der Rosenkavalier, Mozart’s Requiem, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, a piano concerto by Brahms and Gurney’s War Elegy. There’s also a piece of Sally Beamish played by James Crabb on the accordion; I don’t really rate the piece, but Crabb’s playing was superb and ably demonstrates that the accordion can act as a lead instrument for an orchestra.

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