Peasants and Squares

    I presented Peasants and Squares on October 14 at the 2017 Universities Art Association of Canada Conference at the Banff Centre for the Arts. The presentation was part of an Open Studio Session chaired by Risa Horowitz, artist and assistant professor at the University of Regina.

     

    Participation as this conference was funded, in part, by the Manitoba Arts Council.

     

     Abstract

    Sometimes in the life of an artist, a gap appears between the work that you are making and the kind of picture you want to see. But the road from one stylistic territory to another can seem fraught with danger. It can be a comfort to have a companion on the journey. 

    This presentation will discuss how Kazimir Malevich’s painting Head of a Peasant joined me on my current path towards an uncertain artistic future. This charming but awkward piece, painted seventeen years after the Black Square, has become my personal guide for how to overcome boredom, nihilism, and artist’s block in the studio.  A close reading of this unusual painting will structure the story of how I got tired of painting sausages, lithograph stones, and squares, braved the prospect of monochromes, and began feeling good about making pictures again.

     

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    Head of a Peasant, ca. 1928-30, oil on panel, 28” x 21”, Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg