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Adventures of the Black Square by Kazimir Malevich

28 June - 15 October 2007
Benois Wing

As it approaches its centenary, the Black Square still retains its status as the most radical object in Russian art. The square continues to excite our hearts and minds, remaining enigmatic and incomprehensible. New generations still look with hope or indignation into its "black, straight abyss…" The exhibition enables to follow various transformations of this image. And what has not happened to our poor square! It has been quoted, copied, analyzed and criticized. Trampled, transformed, conquered, deciphered and even buried. Abridged and magnified, subjected to x-rays and "painterly working." Camouflaged, burnt, beaten, washed and eaten. Dug up, planted and created from berries, coins, seeds, flies and even worms. Or, alternatively, elevated to a state of gold. It has been manufactured from corrugated paper, rough fabric, rubber and even petroleum, spread out on Red Square, given spectacles, boots and wheels, made to look and speak, turned into plastic bags, pillows, traditional knickknacks, a hunk of black bread, card table, computer screen, window and cosmic space. The square has been packed off on a tour of St Petersburg, through the history of Russian and world of art, and attached to personal biographies. It has been uncovered in reality — in the shadows of Tibet, on the roofs and walls of urban houses and on the gates of a wooden barn. The artists (according to the words of one of the participants of the project about "symmetrical" Gioconda) perceive the Black Square as "an interactive polygon for the testing of new ideas." The modern interest in the creation of new versions of the Black Square is largely the service of Malevich himself. He is the main force behind the adventures of his child. The master painted several pictures on this "subject" and confirmed the square as a universal formula — the primordial Suprematist "cell," transformed into new geometric configurations. He falsified its date of birth and employed it as the emblem of Suprematism, the UNOVIS party symbol, a philosophical concept and his own personal signature.