TOP-10 paintings by Kliment Redko

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“I am studying mathematics thoroughly, I got fascinated by its infinity”

The most active period of creativity of the artist Kliment Redko (1897-1956) were early 1920s. Then he worked under the influence of Vasyl Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich; created a series of paintings, the expressive elements of which were exclusively lines and geometric shapes in a rhythmic combination. There are not many of them but they are very impressive …

Kliment Redko was born in the town of Kholm in Western Ukraine, in a peasant family.He studied at the icon painting studio of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (1910-1914), at Nikolai Roerich School of the Union for the Promotion of the Arts (1914-1918), at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts at Mykola Burachek and Mykhailo Boychuk studios (1918-1919), in Alexandra Ekster studio 1919), at Vasyl Kandinsky in VHUTEMAS (1920-22). He was a friend of Vasyl Chekrygin and Solomon Nikritin; had personal contacts with most of the Ukrainian artists of that time. After the proclamation of the Soviet power in Ukraine, Redko worked in Kyivan artistic and decorative workshops taking part in festive decorations of the city. That period of his life was depicted in detail by the artist himself in the autobiographical novel “The Pupils of the Sun”, which is still an invaluable source of information about the artistic process in Ukraine in the late 1910s.

At that time Kliment Redko got infatuated with the theories of the combination of science and art,he also developed the doctrine of “electro organism”, realizing it in a series of works of the 1920s. “I am studying mathematics thoroughly I got fascinated by its infinity,” the artist wrote. The most famous of his paintings is without any doubt “Uprising” (1924-1925) representing a ghostly diamond with the figure of Vladimir Lenin in the center. The “Leader” is surrounded by the figures of his comrades diminishing as far away from the center.

Kliment Redko in France, 1933.

Kliment Redko on his exhibition in USSR, 1943

Before it was exhibited in the Tretyakov Gallery, the picture had been found  in the collection of Georgiy Kostaki, who in 1977 wrote on the reverse: “The painting of the century, the greatest work of revolutionary Russia. George Kostaki. Moscow, April 14, 77”.

The next outstanding cycle of works by Kliment Redko was created after his journey to the White Sea; among them the famous paintings “Murman” and “Midnight Sun (Northern Light)” (both 1925). The artist used his scientific knowledge for a pictorial embodiment of natural light,not  electric one created by scientists. Redko invents the term “svechenism” from the ukrainian word “свічка” (candle). It is when the knowledge of the laws of light determines the structure of color and form. “Light is the highest manifestation of the material world,” Kliment Nikolayevich summarizes.

In 1927-1935 the artist lived in Paris, creating landscapes and portraits. His works were already far from the avant-garde and Cubism of the early 1920s;and they had commercial success. Redko was a member of the Parisian group of the Ukrainian artists (Alexis Gritchenko, Mykola Hlushchenko, Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo). This fact, as well as the place of birth and education that Redko received in Kyiv, allows  us to consider him as a Ukrainian artist. He lived in Paris for almost 10 years. But when he returned to Moscow, he did not create anything outstanding until the death; his life was difficult, he was persecuted as a painter influenced by the Western culture.

The creative work of Kliment Redko is a bright psychedelic page in the history of Ukrainian art. It is really Ukrainian, because we have an indisputable proof, the letter of the widow of the artist, Tatyana, to Mykola Glushchenko (August 1968): “The formation of Kliment  as an artist and as a person took place in Kiev… It is impossible to separate him from Ukraine, he is the son of this land.”

TOP-10 paintings by Kliment Redko