My name is Ben Borthwick. I’m an assistant curator here at Tate Modern, and I’m one of the curators of ‘Rodchenko and Popova – Defining Constructivism’. The exhibition looks at a very tight period of time. It starts with the Revolution in 1917, and it finishes shortly after Popova’s death in 1924. That was this kind of high moment of creativity and the exchange of ideas between these artists and their circle. The paintings I’d like to look at today are these two Space-Force Constructions by Liubov Popova from 1921. You have the study, which is obviously these black gridlines, over exactly the same background colour, but with white support colours behind it, and then the final painting that she makes, it simply inverts that information. It has very different effects, so the black lines stand right up at the front of the picture. Everything else is behind it. This grid kind of pushes everything behind, but once it’s reversed, there’s much more movement. If you’re looking at the white lines, they are in the front. If you are looking at the black, the white lines recede. These images are obviously dominated by the strong vertical lines going up, and the strong horizontal lines going across. In the series of lithographs called The City that she made relating to these paintings, she brings a reference from the outside world into these purely abstract forms, so in some ways she’s taking, she’s mapping these abstract ideas onto real space. But what’s not clear, and what’s so… it’s just this amazing thing that she does. What’s not clear is, if the lithographs are a kind of futuristic imagining of what skyscrapers and city space might be like, or whether it’s a bird’s eye view down onto a grid plan of how a city might be organised to make it the most efficient kind of urban organism possible. So here we have two paintings by Aleksandr Rodchenko, Construction No. 90 and Construction No. 92 from 1919. They are both obviously line paintings. They were part of a series that he made, not necessarily creating 92 paintings in a row; the numbers refer to the drawings which he did. So he made hundreds of drawings using a compass and a ruler. So like Popova, these paintings are obviously arrangements of vertical and horizontal and diagonal planes or angles on the picture plane. Rodchenko identified the role of the artist to be a kind of aesthetic engineer, to create the perfect organisation of forms on the canvas. A lot of people will be familiar with Rodchenko’s photograph and these sharp angles that he uses, but one of my favourite examples of where he integrates not only the form of these paintings, but also the use of the camera, is in his art direction of the Lev Kuleshov film, The Female Journalist. The thing that is particularly interesting is the lighting, and he casts light through the banisters of the walkway that the woman walks across, and it’s almost exactly like these paintings. I think the first half of the exhibition shows how they struggle with their practice as artists, kind of isolated in the studio. The idea is that they were able to capture the ideas of the laboratory period of the studio and then map it onto the surfaces of everyday life.