«There will be three of us…» Kazimir Malevich. Nikolay Suetin. Ilya Chashnik. Painting and drawing from the Sepherot Foundation (Liechtenstein)

September 4 - November 25

«There will be three of us...,» Malevich wrote in his letter to N. Suetin about a narrow circle of suprematists-innovators. N. Suetin and I. Chashnik were the closest associates of K. Malevich, and these three really felt like a close creative community. The Tretyakov Gallery presents the works of the founder of Suprematism and his students. Many of these works have never been exhibited in Russia before, and are unknown to the public.

Joint exhibit of works created by K. Malevich (1879-1935), N. Suetin (1897-1954) and I. Chashnik (1902-1929) is a long-standing tradition, reflecting the characteristics of their artistic closeness. This creative alliance was formed in Vitebsk: in the autumn of 1919, Kazimir Malevich began to teach in Vitebsk People's Art School, where N. Suetin and I. Chashnik were studying. School life changed dramatically with the arrival of Malevich, Suprematism became the main artistic direction; Vitebsk transformed into the «capital of Suprematism».

Personal attractiveness, innovative art, combined with a strong persuasive talent enabled Malevich to organize a strong team of Suprematists within a short period. In 1920, a group was formed called Unovis (Founders of New Art), in which Suetin and Chashnik became active members and adherents of the new art movement. In Vitebsk, they learned the basic laws of Suprematism and practiced both easel painting and decorating creative work, becoming practically the leading artists of Unovis.

In 1922, Chashnik and Suetin moved to Petrograd, following Malevich, who was placed in charge of the Museum of Artistic Culture (MAC). Close friendship between the two artists continued until Chashnik’s death in 1929. After leaving Vitebsk, both of them experienced creative dependence on Malevich, while at the same time, they tried to overcome that dependence without destroying their close relationship with their teacher. Suetin and Chashnik painted porcelain, made sketches for furniture and textiles. In the mid-1920s, they created many projects that promoted the architectural concept of Malevich. Their works demonstrate different facets of this relationship between the teacher and his students - from unconditional following of the artistic principles of Suprematism, to attempts to find their own interpretations.

Chashnik’s method is based on the rationality of plastic experiments and integrity of formal solutions. The development of his own version of Suprematism led this artist to an original interpretation of the interplay of colors and forms. Suetin’s creations organically combined two lines: Suprematism as such, and search of an independent version of a subjectless system. The most important for him was to create the artistic image of Suprematic space: above all, he was guided by Malevich’s assertion about the natural essence of Suprematism.

The collection of Malevich’s works in the Sepherot Foundation covers almost all periods of his work. The earliest examples are two impressionistic sketches made in Kursk, where Malevich had spent his youth and began his artistic career. The graphic style of Malevich in late 1900s evolved in Art Nouveau and Symbolism styles. The painting «Society» (1908) refers to the so-called «White Series», works on city life and secular society. In the «Winter Landscape» (early 1910s), one can feel the passion for aesthetics of the «Jack of Diamonds». Here K. Malevich used the techniques of neo-primitivism: deliberate rudeness and expressive manner of drawing, ultimate simplification.

The Sepherot Foundation offered 14 works of Malevich (4 paintings and 10 drawings), 55 works of I. Chashnik (graphics and plaster relief) and 35 works of N. Suetin (including one painting) to be exhibited at the Tretyakov Gallery.

A catalog has been made for the exhibition, which contains a collection of articles about artists and their creative union, biographical information and photographs. Tatiana Goryacheva (Tretyakov Gallery) is the curator of the exhibition and the author of the catalog. 

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