Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square on a White Field is justifiably regarded as a Suprematist masterpiece. His 1915 oil on canvas creation is a timeless wonder, replete with emotional content and a definite weightiness so seldom found in lesser works. Now, almost 100 years after Kazimir Malevich gave birth to his black square, we reassess the essence of the painting and its impact upon memory.
Kazimir Malevich: Black Square on a White Field Revisited
Before we fully engage with the work, let me first state, at the risk of being somewhat obtuse, that the full glory of the work can be witnessed only when one is standing in St.Petersburg’s State Russian Museum. Here, after feasting on delicate caviar and pure, airy vodka in a street side cafe, one may stand eye to eye with the canvas itself. Delectable and naked, like the lithe virgin, one can indulge the pleasures of both eye and mind.
However, not all men have such fortune. For now, we shall collectively marvel at the image via the medium of online reproduction. Please consider, imagine and take precious time to bathe in the Black Square. When you are spent, move on…
A number of art critics, those both profound and peculiar, have deemed Malevich’s work to be, I quote, “incomprehensible”. This, perhaps, is the tide against which we fight. Or, to be salient, are we swimming against a barrier of purely mental design?
Malevich, the Black Square and Modern Art Memories
I ask you now, what do you see? The sensation of space is evident, so too the function of line and temporal stability. Yet the image is a frame, drawing you to the black entrails of the square. What, dear reader, do you see?
On a personal level, Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square repeatedly takes me to four distinct memory platforms:
- My first wife, enraged and bleating about money while talking to her other lover, 27 years her junior, on the phone.
- Mishka Mishkalovalova, a Siberian prostitute in whose arms I spent many a fine night, the flames of passion tickling the wiry beard that had grown about my face.
- A bordello in Venice, long since lost to flames, sadly burned to the ground during an anti-Capitalist demonstration in 1998. A great shame; it was perhaps the finest cathouse in Europe.
- A four-in-a-bed adventure involving myself, my fifth wife, an Asian house cleaner named Om and a Republican congresswoman with a penchant for silk.
Note, if you will, how the black square takes us into the depths of private memories that lie deep and hidden from wider social understanding and acceptance. Interesting, I am sure you will agree.
Malevich Black Square Meaning
Is the Supremacist nature of the image playing within a particular emotional context? Does Malevich’s Black Square deliberately target primal recollections, bringing them to the fore when one peruses the canvas? The painting undeniably presents a weighty milieu. The off-white field, or frame, is akin to the parted legs of a woman. The black center, meanwhile, is a subtle portrayal of the female part, drawing the viewer into personal memories of clandestine love and joyful physical adventures.
Let us listen to Malevich himself speaking about his Black Square on a White Field:
“But a blissful sense of liberating non-objectivity drew me forth into the “desert”, where nothing is real except feeling… and so feeling became the substance of my life.”
“The emotions which are kindled in the human being are stronger than the human being himself… they must at all costs find an outlet, they must take on overt form, they must be communicated or put to work.”
Malevich: Suprematism of Fantastic Memory
Here we have feeling as the substance of life; we have emotions that override the strength of the human viewer. Malevich’s Black Square is, for me, a bounding adventure into the past, a gateway into erotic memory. Now, dear friend and reader, look at the canvas once again. Then, for the sake of this examination and the furtherance of art itself, tell us, tell the world, what do you see…?