Beeldbrug episode 2: Esmee and Stijn

Above image: El Lissitzky, Proun 19D, 1920 or 1921, Gesso, oil, varnish, sandpaper, crayons, cardboard, paper, metallic paint, and metallic foil on multiplex, photograph by: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Image below: Esmée Bruins, Untitled, from the book “Groeipijn“, 2020, photography, in private ownership.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Russian artist Kazimir Malevitsj started painting more and more abstract. Beginning from Cubism, he developed a combined interest in futurism and cubism, which led to Cubo-Futurism. This is how he arrived at the essay bundle he created in 1914 named suprematism. Suprematism is an art form in which different shapes, mostly rectangles, are places next to each other in a dynamic way. The idea behind this is that the visual, and what it represents, is subordinate to the pure, artistic feeling that art can convey.

Suprematism is one of the first art movements that came to mind when I saw Esmee Bruins‘ work; a diptych consisting of two photographs of the same composition, but taken from a slightly different angle. I paired this diptych to Proun 19D from the Russian El Lissitzky made in 1920/1921. This pairing comes from a similarity in the composition of both works, which both consist of many straight lines (Although the work of Bruins is not perfectly straight) and a feeling of orderly chaos that I get from looking at both works.

The theory behind suprematism is, in my opinion, applicable to the diptych of Bruins, in which the loose objects by themselves are clearly subordinate to the composition, and because of that also to the experience of this composition. Moreover, for me this diptych uncovers how much an experience can change because of a small change in the composition; in this case a small change in the position of the camera.

Written by Stijn Albers

Source: H. H. Arnason en Elizabeth C. Mansfield, History of Modern Art, 7th edition (United States: Pearson Education, 2012), 202-205.