Proekt Unovisa
2012

Proekt Unovisa is an odic dedication to Malevich, Lissitzky, and Suprematism (Malevich's belief that Suprematist art would lead to the "supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts"). Heavily influenced by avant-garde poets, and an emerging movement in literary criticism, Malevich derived his interest in flouting the rules of language, in defying reason. He believed that there were only delicate links between words or signs and the objects they denote, and from this he saw the possibilities for a totally abstract form of art. And just as the poets and literary critics were interested in what constituted literature, Malevich came to be intrigued by the search for art's barest essentials. Consequently, Suprematists' interest in abstraction was fired by a search for the 'zero degree' of painting, the point beyond which the medium could not go without ceasing to be art. 

Upon developing a suprematist style of his own, El Lissitzky - through a series of abstract, geometric paintings (which he called Proun) explored the visual language of suprematism with spatial elements, utilising shifting axes and multiple perspectives; both uncommon ideas in suprematism. The exact meaning of "Proun" was never fully revealed, although it has been suggested that it is a contraction of proekt unovisa (designed by UNOVIS) or proekt utverzhdenya novogo (Design for the confirmation of the new). Later, El Lissitzky defined them ambiguously as "the station where one changes from painting to architecture." 

In this series, varying shapes were a way to strip away at surface and go back to basics, to look at what exists, as it is.

‘In Don’s case it’s not that there is a spiritual suggestion but that the art should replace things of the spirit,’ Flavin explains. ‘For Don, spiritual matters are just unrefined thought, ideas that if really considered would lead to science or art. For Malevich, it’s the opposite: the spiritual is the opening to the future and the art is the entranceway.’

But for some people, aren’t squares are just squares? ‘There are always people who see both Malevich and Judd as “just squares”, just as there are people who see sunsets as a reason to lower the shades,’ Flavin muses. ‘It’s an absence of consideration and openness. Not everybody is going to like Judd or Malevich works, but one has to give them credit for each pushing the culture to one side to make room for their own.’