Polyhedron - an abstraction of the soul; or the brief history of 20th Century Russian Avant-Garde.

Original source: efluent-of-styx on tumblr

What is a truly abstract art?

For most of the human history, most art was representational and figurative in nature (at least in areas where there was an interest in figurative art, so not ie. in Islamic world). That means that the outside world influenced the pictorial result. And brief aside, many of especially older artefacts of culture appear as highly abstract nowadays, this is not because they were intended as abstract by their creators - over hundreds of years we just lost the knowledge about their meaning and context. Culture is never stagnant.

The formation of abstract art as a definitive current was a gradual process. From Pointillism and post-impressionism to cubism, the art became more abstracted from the reality it was inspired by. But the link between art - reality was still present.

A brief setup, since art is always influenced by it’s predecessors:

From the mid-eighteenth century, the Russian school of painting and sculpture had been controlled by the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. In the relatively liberal atmosphere of Alexander II’s "Great Reforms,” there was growing discontent among some artists with the traditionally conservative attitude of the Academy of Arts. In 1863, a group of students at the Academy rebelled at the proposed topic for the annual Gold Medal painting competition: “The Entrance of Odin into Valhalla.” They felt that this mythological fantasy was too remote from the real life of Russia that, they believed, demanded their artistic attention.

(Nineteenth-Century Russian Art: "Ideological Realism”)

This caused some of the artists to break off from the Academy, calling themselves Peredvizhnik and painting scenes from the life of lower classes.

Half a century later, the clouds of Revolution were brewing, not only for the art but for the whole Russian Empire (yeah guys, even art is influenced by class conflict).

The Russian avant-garde was a large, influential wave of avant-garde modern art that flourished in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, approximately from 1890 to 1930. Their interest lay in more abstract expression which, in context of Russian Empire, heavily contrasted with he traditional school of art that liked safe mythological subjects, favoured by the higher classes. They were mostly members of intelligentsia: artists, writers, filmakers and architects.

An Abstract art uses visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. (Wikipedia) The ideas is not to depict, but to evoke concept into the viewer’s without referring to understandable symbols. To create a spiritual experience when interacting with the work of art. And while there were numerous currents, lets look at two influential figures:

Delicate Tension. No. 85 (1915)

Mystery, speaking through mysteries. Isn’t that meaning? Isn’t that the conscious or unconsciousnes purpose of the compulsive urge to create?

(Wassily Kandinsky Quote, c. 1910)

One of the pioneers was Wassily Kandinsky. He wrote extensively his opinions on spirituality of art experience he wanted to capture in his praxis:

Colours on the painter’s palette evoke a double effect: a purely physical effect on the eye which is charmed by the beauty of colours, similar to the joyful impression when we eat a delicacy. This effect can be much deeper, however, causing a vibration of the soul or an "inner resonance"—a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself.

"Inner necessity” is, for Kandinsky, the principle of art and the foundation of forms and the harmony of colours. He defines it as the principle of efficient contact of the form with the human soul. (Wikipedia)

At an unknown hour, from a source that is still sealed to us, but inexorable, the Work comes into the world. Cold calculations, splashes leaping up without plan, mathematically accurate construction (laid bare or concealed) silent, screaming drawing, scrupulous finish, colour in fanfares or played pianissimo on the strings, large, serene, cradling, fragmented planes. Isn’t that a Form? Aren’t those the means?

Suffering, seeking, tormented souls with a deep fissure, caused by the collision of the spiritual with the material... Shame on him who turns his soul’s ear away from the mouth of art. A human being speaks to human beings about the superhuman – the language of art.

Quote of Kandinsky, from the catalog of the second exhibition of the ‘Neue Künstlervereinigung’, München, August, 1910

He influenced abstract art both within Russia and Germany. Finally leaving the latter for France due to Nazi hostility towards what they deemed “degenerate art”.

Black Square (1915)

Around the same time, art movement called suprematism was conceptualised by Kazimir Malevich.

…a blissful sense of liberating non-objectivity drew me forth into a "desert”, where nothing is real except feeling…

"Suprematism”, Part II of The Non-Objective World

Under Suprematism I understand the primacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist, the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.

And thus within Suprematism, the creator abandoned the idea of depicting reality which could never be fully captured, in favour to contain essence of feeling, energy.

The rectangular picture-plane indicates the starting point of Suprematism; a new realism of color conceived as non-objective creation. The forms of Suprematist art live like all the living forms of nature. This is a new plastic realism, plastic precisely because the realism of hills, sky and water is missing. Every real form is a world. And any plastic surface is more alive than a (drawn or painted) face from which stares a pair of eyes and a smile. (1914)

His most well known painting “Black Square” hung in the room corner during 0.10 Exhibition, in Eastern European culture a place reserved for religious icons.

Suprematism (1915)

Initially artists of Russian Avant-Garde were highly praise in post Revolution Soviet Union, a system whose direction they influenced with their undogmatic theories and approaches to expression.

In 1923, Malevich was appointed director of Petrograd State Institute of Artistic Culture, which was forced to close in 1926 after a Communist party newspaper called it "a government-supported monastery” rife with “counterrevolutionary sermonizing and artistic debauchery. (Wikipedia)

In 1930’s Joseph Stalin’s government heavily censored any forms of abstract art, and promoted Socialist Realism. The Avant-Garde ideas deemed incompatible with the reality the artists helped to create. Most of them: adapted their style, left Soviet Union or were forced to exist on the fringe of society benevolently tolerated by the system. This is the irony imo. of both Pathologic 2 endings, if the utopian idea of Polyhedron - impossible structure - takes root, the utopians have no place in the society.

So imo this is the most direct inspiration for Polyhedron, Andrey Stamatin and Peter Stamatin - and their exile away from Powers that Be.

A lot of 'Utopians’ in the story imo. are coded as undesirable, for the governing Powers that Be, elements of society. No matter if their goals are for pure expression of the human soul like in case of Peter Stamatin’s, or Daniil Dankovsky’s idea to banish the final act of human suffering - death. Their ideas are too grand to be allowed by The Powers that Be.

On a funny note, I find that often Daniil Dankovsky is viewed in much more negative light than the three governing powers of the town. Even thou he actively tries to stop the plague. Which is a lol.

This posts are like 95% about history, 5% about the game. But they’re like tiny snippets of whole possible background context. Make your own theories.

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