White Suprematism

Jos De Gruyter & Harald Thys


Drawing, 147 x 147 cm.
Materials: ink, wood, cardboard, plexi

Collection: M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. BK009246).

Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys’ series of drawings titled White Suprematism which refer to the pioneering modernist artistic movement founded in Russia by Kazimir Malevic in the early 20th Century, that rejected figurative representation in order to move towards the sensations of pure colour and abstract forms. Malevic stated: “In the year 1913, trying desperately to free art from the dead weight of the real world, I took refuge in the form of the square”. De Gruyter & Thys’ drawings also appropriate the square, and populate it with configurations repeating the basic form of their White Element series of sculptures – flat white sheet-metal sculptures in simple humanoid shape. The repetition, in one sense, forms modernist geometric compositions, but also introduces the human figure, rejected by the original practitioners of Suprematism. The simple flatness and repetition of white figures, indicate a homogeneous group, with no deviation. With the title White Suprematism curiously rhyming with “white supremacism”, it is suggestive of ideologies built on racial superiority. Modernism, despite its supposed universality, has been considered by some thinkers as an expression of white European identity. De Gruyter & Thys’ White Suprematism hold a mirror of stark reflection this expression.

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