Gallant Company in a Park by Kazimir Malevich

Gallant Company in a Park is an interesting addition to the oeuvre of contemporary artist, Kazimir Malevich. The painting is dated at circa 1908 which explains why its style is so different to the mature period of this artist’s career.

The content and style of this image is just so different to what we are used to with Malevich. There is a plethora of women in smart clothing all around this artwork. They are outdoors in a park, enjoying a fairly formal occasion. The grass of the park can be seen in the distance, where several trees fill the upper part of the work. There is also a stage with dancers, around which the guests are grouped. Some watch, others dance. A few men can be seen within the crowd, with tall hats giving them away, but it is mostly a female crowd. Orange is used to cover a large part of the floor, suggesting that a temporary set has been created for this particular event within the park. There are also some brightly coloured lights dotted about in the distance, which perhaps have been spruced up for this important event. Malevich chooses to limit the colours for the outfits worn, making many of them white, with others in pink, blue, black and green. The artist does not attempt to add too much detail to each figure, prefering to use an outline and basic details.

Malevich used a cartoon-like approach which gives a fun atmosphere to this painting. The colours were bright and contemporary but there is nothing within this painting to suggest the route that the artist would later take in order to produce some of the most famous paintings in the 20th century. He simply appears to be finding his way at this time, whilst in around his late twenties and many artists would take time to establish their signature styles. We can see influences from other artists here, and Malevich would look abroad to see how modern artists were working at that time in order to get new ideas. Ultimately, he would switch to a really unique approach in later years and this helped him to achieve a solid reputation nationally and internationally by the end of his lifetime.

This painting can be found at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam who actually own several other items from Malevich’s career. They specialise in art from the 20th century and have most of the main exponents of that era featured somewhere within their extensive collection. For example, besides Gallant Company in a Park you will also be able to see the likes of La Berceuse (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, Woodcutter (1912–13) by Kazimir Malevich, Composition XIII (1918) by Theo van Doesburg and also a number of Piet Mondrian paintings. They therefore focus almost entirely on European artists, though that is likely to change as they acquire art from a wider perspective today, in line with changing tastes across the western world where major institutions attempt to become somewhat more diverse within their permanent and temporary displays.

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