TATE: On Malevich
A few days ago I dragged a good friend of mine to the Malevich exhibition at TATE Modern in London. He’s studying some pretty fancy computing stuff at university and doesn’t take an interest in art unless I’m around.
Malevich’s work is pretty far out, and without a good book in front of you it can be difficult to understand at the best of times. His abstract shapes and simple colours do not usually fall under what many of my friends consider to be ‘art’ and this could be said for Chris. He just didn’t get it. As we wandered between the rooms I began to feel undermined by my lack of knowledge on the subject and my inability to explain it to Chris. I had studied him a little in the last year but my interest and reading had been with Constructivism. I was reminded what it was like to walk around and gallery or exhibition blind.
The gallery had provided us with a small pamphlet each and had written the same information on the walls, but that was it. Futurism, Cubism and Supremitism were all mentioned but not in detail, and without any examples. I appreciate that the exhibition was an artistic biography of the man but I felt some art historical context would have been appreciated. In fact some context would have been helpful with the art scene in Russia alone as the Constructists went unmentioned.
Although it was a wonderful exhibition I couldn’t help but feel the TATE fell into old pitfalls in modern art. All the unexplained isms and the years of theory that went unmentioned left the average viewer a little underwhelmed. It was inaccessible and makes me wonder how we ever expect the public to ‘like’ modern art if we never give them a chance to understand it? Unless that’s the point.