The Royal Academy of Arts is now showcasing “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932”. While this at first seems a fairly innocuous retrospective, when you re-consider those dates and the consequences of that title the reflection is one of a momentous period of change and upheaval. While that timeline could probably be dragged pre 1917 and post 1932, those dates do somehow capture that period of significance.
Artwork that initially resembled the appeal of 19th century railway posters, bold colours, striking iconography, transcends into evocations of the tumultuous history of the period. Far-reaching and shattering in its consequences.
Curiously some of the work seems to go beyond the boundaries of time and space. Look at Alexander Deineka’s Textile Workers, 1927. They resemble robots, blank and automated, that conjure visions of the mindlessness of the coming late 21st century rather than a historic period piece.
Or Kazmir Malevich, ‘Peasants’, c.1930, a kaleidoscope of colours and the inhumanity of those staring figures with no facial features, breathtakingly prescient.
And if you are able to get to the exhibition and it fascinates, then follow that up later this year with the Tate’s Red Star over Russia. Up the peasants, up the workers!