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Monday, January 16, 2012

CAMPAIGN TO BUILD MALEVICH CENTRE BY ARTIST’S GRAVE


Campaign to build Malevich centre by artist’s grave
An avant-garde enthusiast and an investment banker have joined forces to save the site from commercial development

By Sophia Kishkovsky. News, Issue 230, December 2011
Published online: 15 December 2011

An arts centre dedicated to Kazimir Malevich, the pioneering modernist and the founder of suprematism, is being planned following a chance encounter in a field in Nemchinovka, near Moscow, between a Russian avant-garde enthusiast on a search for Malevich’s grave and a German investment banker concerned about Russia’s international image. Malevich made work and developed his theories on art in Nemchinovka, and it was where he wanted to be buried.

Aleksandr Matveyev, a physicist who has spent decades researching Malevich’s legacy, and Moscow-based fund manager and Nemchinovka resident Jochen Wermuth, have united to raise funds for the centre and oppose developers building a housing complex on the site.

“I noticed him [Matveyev] one day digging in the field behind my house,” says Wermuth, who moved to Russia in the 1990s and worked with the Russian government during the period of economic reform. Matveyev, who became interested in Malevich’s connection to the village while working with a Soviet youth organisation, was looking for the artist’s grave.

The burial site, under an oak tree on the edge of Nemchinovka and marked with a white cube with a black square designed by his close friend and fellow suprematist Nikolai Suetin, was destroyed during the second world war. In 1988, as the Soviet era was ending, an adjacent site was designated as a memorial and a white cube with a red square was installed. Until recently, the local authorities insisted that it was the actual grave. Malevich devotees try to gather at the second site every year on 23 February to mark the artist’s birthday. But the site is within the gates of an exclusive housing complex and access is tricky.

When Wermuth learned that he lives on “sacred” artistic territory, he donated $30,000 in support of the search for Malevich’s grave (Matveyev had already used up the funds he had raised by selling his home). The artist’s last resting place was finally found in a field on a former farm collective that is now a construction site being developed by property company Rondo. Matveyev and his assistant, Andrei Yanovsky, keep guard at the burial spot to make sure it is not destroyed by excavation equipment.


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