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Red cavalry gallops

Painting, 1932, 140×91 cm

Description of the artwork «Red cavalry gallops»

On the edge of the vast wasteland, under the indifferent bottomless sky there stretched a crimson thread. Like Bloody Meridian, the Red Death is dancing along the horizon with its predator, yet distant fires. Red cavalry gallops.

The land is skinned and flattened under the hooves of excited horses. It is literally separated into layers, it is foliated into colorful necrotic bacon. There is nothing left behind the Red Army, and there is nothing ahead of them. This solitary, relentless and devastating movement seems to exist beyond time, space and purpose.

Those were hard times when this work was painted. And if some liberties with space and time were allowed, the purpose should necessarily be defined clearly. That is why Malevich wrote on the reverse side of the canvas, "Red cavalry gallops from the October capital to the defense of the Soviet border", to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings.

"Red cavalry" is one of the most famous charade paintings by Kazimir Malevich. Only "Black Square" could rival with it in terms of the diversity of what the artist wanted to tell with his work. Many art critics usually approach this painting with a tape measure and a calculator. To apply the rule of the Golden section to the horizon (the line is almost perfect). To calculate the Red Army soldiers (three groups by four horsemen). To look for "suspicious" matches (three times four is twelve, and, wow, the ground is painted with twelve shades!). To give the numbers deep symbolic meanings (three like the three heroes, a symbol of the natural element, four – the symbol of the order, the evidence that the revolution is a "controlled disaster," twelve goes for the universe etc.). All this mathematical analysis is as exciting as it is idle. Malevich was an intuitive genius, and if he endued his canvas with such abundant numerology, then it was done unintentionally.

The date of the "Cavalry" creation also remains unclear. The artist himself dated it to 1918, although the experts were unanimous in the opinion that it was painted much later, between 1928 and 1932. Why did Malevich cheat? Perhaps because of "foody" considerations. "Red Cavalry" was his only abstract work recognized and approved by the Soviet authorities. Maybe Kazimir Severinovich wanted to add trustworthiness post factum, or he preferred not to return to the "despised genre" after he had announced Suprematism the apex of creative evolution.

However, if you are an admirer of non-obvious interpretations, here's another one. Looking closer, you'll notice that the silhouettes of the horsemen as if "rescattered". They are not three groups of four, but three "cavalry solid squares". If you imagine how this looks from above, you’ll get three red square on the black plane – encrypted Suprematist composition.

Anyway, the picture was painted after Malevich's break with the Soviet authorities. Perhaps even after his imprisonment in the "Crosses" on charge in espionage. It turns out that the key to the only true interpretation should still be looked for on the reverse side of the canvas.

"Red cavalry gallops from the October capital on the defense of the Soviet border" - this cold be taken at face value in 1913, when Malevich worked in the edition "Today's luboks". In the 30s similar clarification of the author would have been a wicked joke. 

The same "bravura" notes can be traced in another poetic work of Malevich, painted some time later. "Go, Go, Doo-Doo-Doo! On the rubber circle. There's nothing, Madam Doudou, Kazya's riding on the circle" - fatally ill Malevich recited in 1934 lying on a rubber tire to prevent pressure sores.

This man was absolutely fearless, he didn't curry favor with the authorities. Disappointment, bitter sarcasm, a sense of the approaching end are all those stitches of the thin red line, which pervades this ruthless picture.

Author: Andrew Zimoglyadov
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: Abstractionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1932

Size: 140×91 cm

Artwork in selections: 76 selections

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