The Sources of Suprematism

Kazimir Malevich in Ukraine and Belarus
Seminars and Colloquia

In his autobiography, Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935), who rejected Renaissance art and Classicism in favour of his new abstract art, emphasized his admiration for folk art, icon painting and peasant sign painting. His interest in peasant art began in his childhood in the Ukrainian village of Parkhomivka (Kharkiv region) at the end of the nineteenth century. Malevich was fascinated by the peasants’ wall paintings. He was happy to help the peasant women, who were excellent at drawing roosters, horses and flowers. He himself continued to paint in the peasant style, recognizing the talent of the women painters.
In recent years, many interesting studies have appeared that shed light on the Kyiv period of Malevich's work (1928–30), as well as on the avant-garde context in Ukraine. In 2015, several of Malevich’s texts were found in the archive of Marian Kropyvnytsky in Kyiv. Levina analyzed recently published books and articles by Tetyana Filevska, Myroslava M. Mudrak, Myroslav Shkandrij and others to get a deeper insight into his Ukrainian heritage. The importance of recognizing Malevich’s Ukrainian roots became a necessity, and this was done in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The decolonizing agenda of seeing the sources of Malevich’s inspiration in Ukrainian and Belarusian life is extremely important not only for his art theory but also for metaphysics. By analyzing new works on UNOVIS and Suprematism in Vitsebsk by Tatyana Kotovich, Levina linked two Ukrainian periods in Malevich's life and art.

The Colloquium was opened with a welcome address by Clemena Antonova, Director of the IWM program The World in Pieces.

Tatiana Levina, Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) Essen and Visiting Fellow at the IWM.

Eva Forgacs, Art Center College of Design, California and former IWM Fellow, provided the commentary and moderated the Q&A session. 



Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.