Picture above is of Sportsmen by Malevich. I took a photo of the picture on the tin of notelets as there were too many people to capture the actual work at the exhibition.
I have spent the afternoon at the wonderful Royal Academy of Arts exhibition on Revolution, Russian Art 1917-1932. It is of course marking the centenary of the October revolution of Russia in 1917 when the Lenin led Bolsheviks attacked the Tsar and the Winter palace and took over power.
My mother was right, as you enter you feel like you are entering another world. The life size portraits and bold red walls take one in and make it feel like one is reliving history not just looking at paintings in an exhibition.
From Isaak Brodsky’s giant defining early portrait of Lenin the exhibition traces the impact of mechanisation, the schizofrenic reaction to Malevich at first despised then asked to exhibit in a show case of Russian art, the lot of the peasants who had their lives destroyed by meagre food supplies and the new communes they were despatched to and finally the terrible purges of Stalin.
There are some wonderful works of art and it is varied including portraits, lovely sculptures, Chagall’s depiction of his marriage and blissful rustic scenes. There was also some wonderful porcelain paintings and propaganda posters and a whole room of the artist Vodkin including a homage to Fra Angelia and Giotto where a mother and child sit above the grind of communist difficult daily life below.
Just as I was reliving the lies of communism and stalinism around the exhibition, the most surreal thing happened. My iphone flashed up a Daily Telegraph update that Trump had denounced Obsma and was launching an enquiry into a Watergate style tapping of his New York Trump tower during the election. My initial inclination is not to believe it: this is surely deflection of the investigation into his campaign team’s ties with Russia?
Malevichh’s portrait of sportsmen (pictured at the start of this post) seems to suggest that you can try to suppress a group but not the individual spirit.
So rise up individuals of America and show what democracy is made of. I hope that now we have a phrase to describe “this post truth era” in which we live, America will find the courage, spirit and effort to call out the lies and remove their authors. I say this expecting Trump to be proved the liar but applying it also to Obama in the unlikely event it is he who was at fault.
Let us hope that the lessons of Lenin and Stalin cannot be repeated in the West.