HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums (QM), attended the opening of the 'Kazimir Malevich: Genius of the Russian Avant-garde' exhibition, organised in collaboration with the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg, and held at the Fire Station Garage Gallery.
The opening ceremony also welcomed Dr Vladimir Gusev, director of the State Russian Museum; Dr Evgenia Petrova, deputy director of the State Russian Museum and curator of the exhibition; and Joseph Kiblitsky, publisher of the catalog and co-curator, among other VIPs and dignitaries.
The exhibition, which will be on show until May 31, offers a poignant view into the works of an influential innovator of the last century whose movement - Suprematism - continues to inspire artists and architects worldwide, Qatar Museums has said in a statement.
Although a seminal figure in art history, this comprehensive display featuring more than 100 pieces from the collection of the State Russian Museum is a first for the Arab world.
Sheikha Reem al-Thani, director of Exhibitions at Qatar Museums, said: “First envisioned as part of the Qatar-Russia 2018 Year of Culture, the Kazimir Malevich showcase is a complementary event to the 'Russian Avant-garde: Pioneers and Direct Descendants' exhibition held at the Fire Station last year. Visitors who were inspired by these remarkable works can now take a more nuanced look into an originator of the movement.
"We have worked very closely with colleagues from the State Russian Museum, whom we thank for the chance to bring masterpieces by Malevich to the region for the first time.”
The Russian State Museum holds the largest and most complete collection of Malevich’s works, and so the exhibition is able to track the evolution of his art – from the earliest period of a realistic and symbolist nature through to his later work created one year before his passing. Several of his most famous paintings, including ‘Red Square’ and costumes from his opera ‘Victory Over the Sun’, are on view at the Fire Station.
Dr Petrova said, “Working with Qatar Museums has allowed us to create an in-depth view into Malevich’s body of work, a fascinating representation of his break away from traditional artistic expression of that time, to a completely new artform. One of Kazimir Malevich’s greatest hopes for his art and artistic endeavours was to organise exhibitions abroad and I am so pleased we are able to continue doing so, bringing his mastery to new audiences in the region.”
Malevich’s exploration of forms evolved against the background of radical changes in art and society both in Russia and the international scene. Exploring this trajectory, the exhibition brings together for the first-time examples of work from his entire career, including early decorative sketches and poster designs, Cubist and Futurist paintings, ceramic works, and architectural sculptures.
Malevich was the eldest of 14 children born to Polish parents in Kiev in 1879, when Tsar Nicholas II ruled Russia. Set against the background of a country on the verge of a revolution and later the start of World War I, his works present a stark separation from iconography, portraiture and folk art which dominated artistic expression in Russia at the time. His early experimentation with what he later named Suprematism began perhaps as early as 1913 when he designed costumes and sets for the Futurist opera 'Victory Over the Sun', which set the actors against backdrops dominated by geometric forms of colour.
Curated by Dr Petrova, who is also the author of several books on Malevich, the exhibition brings a thoughtful perspective into how the world around him and the shifting political winds in the region, affected the work he was able to undertake until his death in 1935.
Dr Petrova is an art historian and holds a PhD in Art History. She is a member of the St Petersburg branch of the Union of Artists and the International Council of Museums. Under her leadership, the curators and researchers of the State Russian Museum have engaged in an unprecedented level of academic, exhibition and publishing work.
The State Russian Museum is the world’s largest collection of Russian art, housed in a unique architectural complex in the historical centre of St Petersburg. It was the first museum of Russian art, initiated by Emperor Alexander III. The basis of the collection was objects and works of art handed over from the Winter, Gatchina and Alexander Palaces, from the Hermitage and the Academy of Arts, as well as from private collections donated to the museum. The State Russian Museum today is a large authoritative research, restoration, preservation, and educational centre, supervising the work of all art museums of the country. The museum collection contains over 400,000 exhibits covering all major periods and trends in the history of Russian art, all main types and genres, trends and schools of Russian art over more than a thousand years: from the X to the XXI century.
Dr Gusev is an associate professor, a PhD in Art history, a full member of the Russian Academy of Arts and of the International Council of Museums, an honoured art professional for the Russian Federation, and author of numerous academic publications and television broadcasts. Dr Gusev is the recipient of various awards and medals for the development of Russian culture, both nationally and internationally.
The exhibition was first envisioned as part of the Qatar-Russia 2018 Year of Culture and will be an opportunity for local audiences to continue exploring the richness of Russian art.
The Year, which was sponsored by Qatar Airways, was also planned in collaboration with leading institutions in Qatar and Russia, including the embassy of Qatar in Moscow, the embassy of Russia in Doha, the Ministry of Culture of Russia, Qatar’s Ministry of Culture and Sports and the State Museum and Exhibition Centre.
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