An Englishman in Moscow


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Model: Kasimir Malevich-001

Painting Name: An Englishman in Moscow
Artist: Malevich, Kasimir
Medium: Oil Painting on Canvas

The Englishman, who possesses the destructive power of the red arrow and carries an inner light, resembles the Futurist heroes in the Victory over the Sun who kill the sun to destroy the old world and to bring a new light to it: "We are terrible!.. /We are free/The sun is broken ... /Long live darkness!... /Our faces are dark/Our light is within ourselves." The Englishman's geometric forms, which transform him into a mechanical passionless creature, also refer to the opera where Kruchenykh stressed the machine-like qualities of the protagonists and noted that the main theme was "the victory of machinery over the cosmic forces and biology." This conforms to the Futurist glorification of technology, but in the opera the Futurist heroes welcome the death of the contemporary industrial iron age as their true goal is the liberation of the world from old reason. On the other hand, they themselves must be strong and machine-like emotionless men so they may defeat the sun--the source of passion.

In the opera, the Futurist heroes welcome the ruin of their motherland, the "tenth countries," as they believe that, after the death of the old sun, new Futurist countries will come into existence. They feel like strangers in their own homeland. In real life, the reason the Cubo-Futurists called themselves the prophets of the future, attached spoons to their clothes, and painted their faces, while declaiming strange ideas about the future and playing the scandalous roles of madmen and jesters to shock the public, was to make themselves look like strangers in their own country. The reason Malevich's Futurist hero is an Englishman is because England was then the land of technological progress. However, in Moscow the man, who wears the costume of a gentleman but looks like a savage as a result of his absurd attributes, would have been considered a stranger.

The Englishman represents a step forward in Malevich's development of new concepts through pictorial and verbal displacements. His conceptualization of objects was attained by adopting the Symbolist process of symbol formation. According to Andrei Bely, a Russian Symbolist poet and theoretician, this process began with the artist perceiving the phenomenal world and himself as part of the external reality from which he selected only those material and immaterial objects that affected him, stimulating inner experiences that for him were the true reality. The selected perceived objects were transformed by him into art images or new signifying objects that symbolized his experiences and conveyed the inner truth of the metaphysical reality revealed by his soul. The subjective component of the inner truth was combined with art's ideality: "Knowing how to see is the ability to understand in images their eternal meaning, their idea."

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