Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism, now in its last few days at Tate Modern, provides an exciting opportunity to view a diverse body of works by two remarkable artists.
The exhibition presents a range of works, from paintings and drawings to collages, posters, textiles, fashion designs, costume and set designs and furniture. Many strong pieces are included. Popova’s Painterly Architectonics present a brilliant play of colour and form while her Space-Force Constructions on plywood challenge the status of traditional easel painting by using and actively emphasizing an everyday surface. Rodchenko’s designs for the illustrations of Mayakovsky’s poem About This, are definitely among this viewer’s favourites. The theatrical set designs presented, especially Popova’s complex designs for The Magnanimous Cuckold and Earth in Turmoil, present interesting ways of dealing with space and movement on stage and encourage active participation between actors and set.
Rodchenko’s and Popova’s faith in collectivity and collaboration and their conviction in the potential of art, especially abstraction, to transform daily life is evident throughout the exhibition. The range of activities they were involved in shows their direct involvement with everyday life and their dedication to a collaborative way of working. Nowadays, when market value and competition for fame greatly influence the art world, such faith on collective creativity, albeit utopian at times, invokes a certain amount of admiration.