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Interview with Andrei Nakov about Malevich

(Читается с британским акцентом)

— Давным-давно, начиная изучать в Париже историю ис­кусств, я сказал своему профессору, что очень интересуюсь живописью двадцатого века. Он посмотрел на меня весьма неодобрительно и спросил: «Вы хотите стать серьезным искусствоведом или заурядным писакой?» Я все понял и, когда пришло время защищать докторскую диссертацию, выбрал искусство итальянского Ренессанса. Сегодня невозможно поверить, что еще каких-то тридцать лет тому назад абстрактная живопись счи­талась чем-то недостойным внимания, и не только в ученых кру­гах. Когда я впервые попытался устроить во Франции выставку работ Малевича, то не встретил абсолютно никакого понимания, в том числе и со стороны людей, которые с тех пор изменились и ныне определяют пути развития французской культуры.

Я начинал свои исследования с Кандинского и выучил не­мецкий язык, ведь художник жил в Баварии, там о нем много материалов. Я преподавал в Америке и в Англии, вот почему хорошо знаю английский. Но живу и работаю во Франции и, естественно, пишу по-французски. Однако, как славянин, немалым преимуществом считаю знание русского — это дает возможность изучать первоисточники.

Чем глубже я проникался русским искусством, тем больше меня притягивала загадочная фигура Казимира Малевича. Я чувствовал себя как странник, перед которым открылся пре­красный неведомый континент. Мне, к счастью, довольно ско­ро удалось понять самое главное: личность такого масштаба надо представлять всесторонне, а не только через живопись.

Моя работа была чудовищно сложной по всем мыслимым и не­мыслимым параметрам. Я не имел доступа к официальным со­ветским источникам, в первый раз в запасники Русского музея попал лишь в 1987 году. Потом добился возможности работать с текстами Малевича в Центральном Государственном архиве литературы и искусства. Наконец, времена изменились, и все стало проще. Так, шаг за шагом для меня все яснее очерчива­лась его фигура.

Я трудился, как считают некоторые, слишком долго. Но, решившись однажды проделать работу предельно добросовестно,

ты просто обязан вникнуть во все, не упуская мелочей. Самые важные произведения Малевича я даже подверг технической экспертизе, чтобы установить окончательно критерии подлин­ности, изучил невероятное количество подделок, проанализиро­вал самые неприметные детали его художественных приемов. Мой каталог готов, и, я надеюсь, он поможет организовать такие выставки, на которых искусство Малевича будет показано совершенно по-новому. Каталог включает примерно 1700 кар­тин, рисунков и графических листов. Более 2000 страниц текс­та. Удивительное дело: много лет назад казалось, что не хватает материала, а сегодня к уже готовой монографии в 1500 страниц я мог бы добавить еще столько же.

В художественном мышлении Малевича есть что-то от алхи­мии: оно метафорично настолько, что кажется, будто происхо­дит видимая трансформация энергии, сути и формы, когда все переходит в иное качество, в «пространство-время», в четвертое измерение. Мы теперь лучше понимаем его эстетическую реак­цию, его нормы и чувственность. Вероятно, поэтому нам стано­вится немного легче общаться с Малевичем и удается чуть точнее писать о нем. Мы не удаляемся от Малевича, мы, напротив, приближаемся к нему. И совсем не так быстро, как некоторым кажется. Восхождение к его творческому наследию требует огромных интеллектуальных и нравственных усилий.

— Ages ago/Long ago/Way back when/when I was starting to study the history of art in Paris, I said to my professor that I was very interested in/fascinated by/much taken with twentieth century painting. He looked at me disapprovingly and asked, "Do you want to become a serious art historian/expert/critic or an ordinary/run of the mill/humdrum scribbler/pencil-pusher/mediocre writer?" I understood all that/everything/what that was about/and when the time came to defend a doctoral dissertation/thesis, I chose/opted for the art of the Italian Renaissance. Today it's unbelievable/hard/ impossible to believe that only/some thirty years ago abstract painting was considered as something unworthy of/not worth/underserving of/attention, and that was the view not only/just/in academic circles/among scholars/ academics. When I first tried to organize an exhibit of Malevich's works in France 1 encountered no understanding whatsoever/no one understood me, including/on the part of people who have since changed and now determine the (course of/direction of the) development of French culture.

I started my research with Kandinsky, and studied German, since the painter had lived in Bavaria, and there was a lot of material on him there. I taught in America and in England, and therefore know English well. But I live and work in France, and so, naturally, I write in French. However, as a Slav, I consider my knowledge of Russian as a great advantage — it makes it possible for/lets/me study the original/firsthand sources.

The more I studied/The deeper I got into/The more I delved into Russian art, the more I was attracted to the mysterious/enigmatic figure of Kazimir Malevich. I felt like a wanderer/explorer, before/in front of/to/whom a marvelous/superb/beautiful unknown/unexplored continent had opened up/had revealed itself. Fortunately, I rather quickly grasped/understood the most important thing: a personality/ individual of that magnitude/greatness/scope must be understood as a whole/in his entirety/as an integral human being/in all of its aspects, and not just/only through (his) painting.

My work was inhumanly/monstrously/devilishly/horrendously/ unbelievably/nightmarishly complicated/complex in all respects/in every which way. I did not have access to official Soviet sources, and I got into the holdings/back rooms of the Russian Museum only in 1987. Later 1 was able/managed to work with Malevich's texts in the Central State Archive of Literature and Art. Finally, the times changed and everything became much simpler. And so, step by step the contours of his persona/personality became clearer to me/ emerged more clearly/delineated themselves more clearly. I worked — some people think — for too long a time. But once you've decided to do a really honest job/to do the job with real integri­ty/to do a thoroughly conscientious piece of work, you're absolutely obliged/bound/duty bound to investigate everything, not to miss out on/overlook any details. I even subjected the most important works of Malevich to technical analysis; to establish once and for all/to lay down absolute criteria for authenticity/what was genuine/I studied an unbelievable/incredible number/quantity of fakes, and analyzed even the tiniest/most unremarkable/imperceptible details of his artistic devices/techniques. My catalogue is ready/done/fmished, and I hope it will help/be of assistance/use in organizing exhibitions at which Malevich's work will be shown/exhibited in a completely/totally new/different way/light. The catalogue includes approximately/about 1700 paintings, drawings, and print sheets. There are more than 2000 pages of text. Funny thing/it's amazing/weird/astounding/really odd: many years ago it seemed that/looked as though/appeared that there wasn't enough material, and today there's a monograph of 1500 pages, and I could/add an equal number of pages/just as many more/double its size.

Malevich's artistic thinking/smacks of/is reminiscent of/is tinged with alchemy/has something of alchemy to it: it is so metaphorical that it seems as though a visible transformation of energy, essence/ substance and form is taking place, in which everything is taking on a different quality/qualitatively changing, moving into "space-time," into a fourth dimension. We now better understand his aesthetic reaction, his norms and sensitivities/sensibility. Probably for that reason it is now somewhat easier for us to deal with/connect to/relate to/understand/Malevich and it's possible to write slightly more accurately about him. We're not moving (farther) away from Malevich; indeed/ on the contrary,/we're moving towards/coming closer to/him. But not as quickly/as it seems to some people/as some people think. Grasping/(a true) understanding (of)/penetrating his creative legacy/heritage/opus/work demands enormous intellectual and moral efforts.

Section 2. Phrasal Verbs

Recast the following sentences using different collocations with the verb …………… instead of the italicized words and phrases.

GROW

1. She grew out of her things all of a sudden. 2. He has grown into a mature scientist. 3. I'll be happy if he grows out of that odd habit of his. 4. By and by that strange child grew upon me, 5. We grow rice here. 6. My silly boy insists on growing a moustache. 7.When we returned from our holidays, the whole garden was grown over with strange plants with wide leaves and long roots. 8. This model has grown out of use. 9. Habit grows on a person.

1. All her things became too small for her all of a sudden. 2. He has developed into a mature scientist. 3. I'll be happy if he drops that odd habit of his. 4. By and by I began to like that strange child. 5, We cultivate rice here. 6. My silly boy insists on having a moustache. 7.When we returned from our holidays, the whole garden was full with strange plants with wide leaves and long roots. 8.This model has become obsolete.9. A person falls into a habit.

BREAK

1. He broke into laughter when we asked him why he had come hatless. 2. I'm afraid we have broken for good. 3. The dog is dangerous; if it breaks loose it will bite the children, I'm sure. 4. He broke into the office though the guard tried to stop him. 5. When we caught sight of the town-hall of our native town we broke into a run towards it. 6. You must break off your bad habits. 7. The girl dropped her favourite blue cup and it broke. 8. Quite unexpectedly he broke out into curses. 9. She broke down due to violent excite­ment. 10. He has broken with his former schoolmates. 11.I'm afraid I must break this conversation short, I have to go now.

12. Peace talks have broken down in the Middle East.

1. He suddenly began to laugh when we asked him why he had come hatless. 2. I'm afraid we have quarrelled for good. 3. This dog is dangerous; if it gets away it will bite the children, I'm sure. 4. He entered the office by force though the guard tried to stop him. 5. When we caught sight of the town-hall of our native town we started running towards it. 6. You must give up your bad habits. 7. The girl dropped her favourite blue cup and it was knocked to pieces. 8. Quite unexpectedly he began to curse everything and ev­eryone. 9. She couldn't go on speaking due to violent excitement. 10. He no longer mixes with his former schoolmates. 11.I'm afraid I must drop this conversation, I have to go now. 12. Peace talks have ended in failure in the Middle East.

Section 3. Typical Drill

Think over an issue for one minute and express your opinion, speaking for 30-40 seconds.

  1. Is China's economic growth good for the world or should the West be concerned? Would you like more Chinese investment in your country?

  2. What exactly makes a "good immigrant" for a hosted country?

  3. Women in France are banned from covering their face in public( wearing niqab or burqa). Is it a right move?

  4. Is it possible or desirable to regulate the net? Should we apply the same legal and moral rules?

  5. Does e-mail isolate us from real human interactions? Do we start to live in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world? Does technology make us less human?

  6. What to do if such things as low-cut jeans, sunbathing, kisses/cuddles in public and blasphemy are perceived by the other people as an offence?

Section 4. Have Your Say

What age is the right age?

A mother-of-three has been given an official police caution for leaving her 14-year-old in charge of his three-year-old brother. At what age can you safely leave your child at home with no adult supervision?

Can a child be over-supervised? How have you handled this issue in your family? Should there be a law specifying the age a child can be left alone?

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