Artist: Pavel Filonov
Date: 1923
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 79 x 99 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Property of the artist’s sister, Yevdokia Glebova, Leningrad (until 1974)


The evolution of Pavel Filonov’s perception of the world in the late 1910s and early 1920s led the artist to employ, in the majority of cases, abstract means of expression. As he explained: “Life is a process of eternal movement, creation and destruction. Congealed forms cannot, therefore, veritably convey life on a canvas.”

These plastic elements depict what Filonov discerned behind the outer shells of objects and phenomena. Their forms are vaguely reminiscent of crystals or the cross-section of a piece of tissue seen under the microscope. Contemporaries described his works as “inimitable in technique and glittering like precious stones”.

Science was Filonov’s weapon in his experiments in the creation of form. In his own words, form was a “synthesis of complicated analyses”, expressing the ideas of an artist seeking parallels between the creative processes of nature and his own inner world. His interest in bionics and optical effects is also apparent in this work.

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