Man in the World

Artist: Pavel Filonov
Date: 1925
Media: Oil on paper mounted on canvas
Dimensions: 105.5 x 72.5 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Property of the artist’s sister, Yevdokia Glenova, Leningrad (until 1970)
Man in the World


Pavel Filonov united the concepts of the “seeing eye” and the “knowing eye”, transforming his apparatus of perception into something like an omnipresent eye, which pierces through the outward facades of objects. The intoxicating diversity of all these phenomena recorded at a single point in time and space creates a paraphrase of a similar work painted by Filonov two years earlier – Living Head.

Red is the colour of blood, passion and fire – a metaphor for the creative energy of life. Red permeates this image like a blood vessel, keeping it in a permanent state of motion and establishment. The colour creates the faces on the canvas, outlining and distinguishing them from the molecular-cosmic chaos. Red is like the director of a drama of reincarnation, acted out in this picture. The colour acts independently of the artist’s will, incarnating Pavel Filonov’s principle of Analytical Art.

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