CHRISTOS THEOFILIS On Malevich's Grave: Epitaph 2003 [A] - x +
TheC2003grav

CN: TheC2003grav

MT: mixed media: bronze mounted on stretched canvas, China ink, gouache, acrylic and glue on touch paper on canvas (150x100)

TX: inscribed with pencil at lower right <Malevich's The gravestone [in Greek] C.THEOFILIS / 2003>, with felt pen at rear upper left in Greek <EPITAPH / CTheofilis / 2003>

CT: Ekfrasi - Yianna Grammatopoulou, Athens - 2007

CM: Christos Theofilis' On Malevich's Grave: Epitaph is from a series of approximately thirty artworks, all dedicated to Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935), the great conceptual artist of the Russian avant-garde. Basically, with these works Theofilis refers to Malevich's achievement - his declaration that the issue of color is a metaphysical matter. Malevich introduced a new code of colors in art, which the beholder may appreciate only by grasping the artwork's psychism. The present work's background evokes light reminiscent of the whiteness of the marble on Malevich's grave. This light becomes the center of the beholder's attention, as the whole surrounding environment's focal point. As known, Malevich drew inspiration from archetypes of the real world. Most important for him was the cross, which he used not as a venerated object of Christianity, but rather as a metaphysical symbol of a universally religious dimension. In other words, the art of Malevich does not rest with particular references, but is directed towards universal equivocations. Thus he managed to express the deeper meaning of death's agony. And this he did with abstract rather than specific feeling, so that he may not be obliged to account for to the various theosophical movements of his time. On the one hand Vladimir Tatlin claimed art to be construction that is perpetually reconfigured, which explains why he used nature as such in his art. On the other hand, Malevich drew energy and power for his art from the structure within nature and its inherent determinism. This bipolarity in art continues well in our times. It is acknowledged that such a great figure as Malevich remains inexhaustible and the research of his work cannot reach a definitive conclusion.

The surface of the Epitaph consists of successive layers of touch paper, each of which is painted in a different color that collectively endow it with a latent transparency. Such a surface yields the impression that a metaphysical mystery is at work, which could be described as the work's 'psychism'. Furthermore each paper is drawn with different patterns that create the sensation of a complicated composition, which has to do as much with the idea of the artist as a psychologist as with his capacity as a geometrician. The artist aims to point out there is in his work a particular logical geometry, which he treats with disciplined freedom. Nothing in the composition is left to chance. Theofilis' visual agony obliges him to mobilize logic, even in his expression of feelings. Though the combination of visual elements in the work is characteristically asymmetrical, nevertheless everything is composed in a way that preserves a harmonious balance.

Malevich served as a catalyst to the conceptual aspect of art. In his seventeen-year abstinence from the art scene of his time, Malevich depended on conceptual painting. The yellow rectangle on Theofilis' work references Malevich's apostasy, which was to him essential in order to determine his visual thesis. When Malevich died in 1935, a black rectangle, which is emblematic of his art, was placed on his all-white grave. Theofilis refers to Malevich's grave with his own black rectangle, towards which lead all the work's elements - the patterns, the lines and the color. Upon the black pattern Theofilis fixed a bronze mould of a leg made sometime in the 1950s - the original matrix that is used to reproduce the rubber model. The leg is relevant to the dolls that concerned Theofilis in the beginning of 1980s. In the present case, this leg underlines the recognition that Malevich is an indisputable 'step' in world cultural development. At every moment of contemporary art, the challenge is for the artist to break with the academy and to battle the status quo. As a conept the leg is the trace of Malevich, which signals the new form of art. Theofilis uses here the mould, which is privileged with the capacity to reproduce an infinite number of legs, in order to remind contemporary artists of their 'debt' to Malevich.

[Megakles Rogakos 08/2007]

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