Malevich would capture the lives of local peasants and farm workers within his portraits, both in paintings and drawings. He would normally use the latter as a means to prepare his future paintings, with figurative art being amongst the most challenging of genres.
This charming portrait captures the artist’s method of leaving faces blank which he used many times when depicting peasant life within Russia. A slim figure is dressed within simple, traditional clothing which the artist removes most detail from in order to present within his abstract style. A limited palette reduces gradients down to flat tones of blue, white and red, with black stripes on the trousers that almost suggests shadowing. There are pencil marks still on the original drawing, which presumably were painted or drawn over in most parts of this work. Feint lines can be seen around the feet, with further notes listed at the bottom which would help us to understand more about what we are looking at here. Malevich liked to anonymise his figures, which created a different type of atmosphere within his paintings that would sometimes feel a little bit sinister. The use of bright colour here helps to bridge the gap between study drawings and the final paintings.
Malevich was a talented figurative artist who relied on his abilities as a draughtsmen for the basis of much of his work. It was there that he learnt about the human body in order to be able to capture it so accurately, but it would be in his paintings that he inserted greater levels of flair. Drawing has always been considered a fundamental skill for artists, something that would benefit both painting and also sculpture, whilst it plays a similar role in the fundamentals of architecture as well. He would have received specific training in drawing from a young age, as most tutors begin with that before bringing in more complex mediums.
Whilst Malevich can be considered a unique artist who left behind an influential legacy, he was not the only one to do so from this part of the world. Belarus painter Marc Chagall would do similar and the two would work together at times in their careers. Whilst paintings such as Over Vitebsk, Cow with Parasol and Concert are clearly very different in style to the approach taken by Malevich, these two figures would share a real love of modern art and equally desired a greater acceptance of it within the mainstream. Ultimately, their dreams would be realised although they themselves had to withstand a considerable resistance as they went about promoting their respective oeuvres. Today they both take their place within the upper reaches of art history and can be considered important contributors to the changes the occured across the 20th century, with their paintings still highly celebrated today.