The Artworks of Phyllis Kluger
Red Squares, 1990


In the manner of nested Russian dolls that open up to reveal ever-smaller versions of themselves, this multicolored composition features squares within squares within squares.  Each of these pinwheeling, progressively angled units contains images symbolizing an aspect of a social order in ferment as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, and communism gave way to a quasi-market economy and the hope of a freer, more open state.  Tank turrets, for example, morph from spitting deadly gunfire to emitting floral bouquets as harbingers of peace; similarly in the other squares, red stars transition to Russian Orthodox crosses, dancers turn from classical ballet to Western boogie rhythms, the drink of choice shifts from vodka to cola, and even the venerated icon of the Soviets’ hammer and sickle is converted into a form very like the dollar sign.  Meanwhile, the spirit of Lenin hovers above the frenetic scene, and though he cannot participate in the perestroika, he ultimately approves the metamorphosis.  The only unchanging forms are the towers of St. Basil’s basilica deep within the Kremlin walls, its colors shifting as the earth turns, its golden domes again shining through as testament to the faith that Russia might one day free itself of despotism, whether the czars’ or the commissars’ or Vladimir Putin’s version of it. Thus, the core square in this geometric spectacle, like the society it represents, is likened to a chunk of Swiss cheese, so no one can yet tell if it will endure or will disintegrate into yet another Russian revolution.
71 X 71 inches, hand quilted, hand pieced, appliqué, embroidery