Exhibition of drawings by the artist in the Russian Museum
The State Russian Museum contributed to the program of the VII St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum. For all cultural and near-cultural VIPs who flooded the city these days, a visit to the new museum exhibition is clearly a must. We are talking about the exhibition “Unexpected Malevich”, representing one of the most generous gifts received by the State Russian Museum in recent decades, 117 drawings by Malevich from the archive of his student and colleague Anna Leporskaya. Despite the loud name of the exhibition, there is nothing unexpected on it, says Kira Dolinina.
This gift is expected, this was the decision of the successor of Anna Leporsk architect Nina Suyutina, who died in 2016 and whose executor fulfilled her will. Well known to specialists and the Leporskaya collection itself. The first sheets could be in it in 1924, when Leporskaya entered the GINHUK intern as a trainee and found herself in the formal-theoretical department next to Malevich. A significant part of the meeting is most likely related to the attempts of Nikolai Suetin and Leporskaya to save everything that could have been saved after the arrest of Malevich in 1930, when many students and friends preferred to burn the dangerous things. The latest arrivals date back to months after Malevich’s death in 1935, when the artist’s family distributed their inheritance to anyone under the threat of being deprived of official living space: the magnificent collection of Malevich’s paintings was handed to the Russian Museum, but only the pupils and the first of them, Anna Leporskaya, was not found.
The Leporskaya collection survived the blockade along with its owner, and all possible cleansing: the former suprematist served at the Leningrad Porcelain Factory, who saved many of her friends and associates, raised Nina’s daughter Nicholas Suyetina and kept a huge archive. When, in the 1950s, Nikolai Khardzhiev, the only one of the serious researchers of Malevich’s art at that time, appeared in her, she gladly handed him some materials from her collection. So the first lacunae were formed. Then, in the 1960s – 1970s, there will be more researchers, there will be other interested parties. Today, much of what is called the Leporsk Collection in scientific literature is scattered around the world: part in Stedeleyk-Museum in Amsterdam, part in the Pompidou Center, part passed through the hands of the odious gallery owner Christina Gmurzhinsky, who cheated Khardzhiev. What is presented today as a gift to the State Russian Museum is the last sheets of this collection.
Surprise for those who have little idea of the specifics of Malevich’s work may be the fact that the author of the notorious “Black Square”, with which it is so difficult for many to reconcile until now, was able to draw. Well, that is, he could quite have portrayed what the “right” artist was supposed to have – nude, head in face and profile, person in motion, landscape, make a recognizable portrait, finally. All this in the first part of the exhibition among the works relating to the years 1905-1910, the time of Malevich’s apprenticeship in the Moscow school of Fyodor Rerberg, you will find in abundance. There are also extremely funny experiences of the future leader and chairman in the field of applied graphics – labels for soap, vignettes, ornamental fragments, such a wayward but weak student of Russian Berdsleyans, Bakst first of all.
The most important, but absolutely not the most visually winning section of the exhibition is things of the Suprematist period. They are read as a detailed diary, where, day after day, section by section, the artist composes and organizes what, on the same days, results in his most famous canvases. Here, of course, is not so much the work of the pencil as thinking exercises. The post-suprematic period, a return to figurativeness in its new izvod to it, on the contrary, require from the viewer not knowledge of algebra, but harmony.
All periods and all types of images that are in the exhibition, well studied. Discoveries can wait for us after: exposure gives access to the study of these things to many researchers. The number of question marks placed on the labels next to the dating itself is already intriguing. And it seems that it was already proved that Malevich in the late 1920s transmitted many of his works, having composed the author’s version of the chronology of his own work. It was perfectly shown by scientists in painting, where datings easily descend from 1930 to 1913. With the drawings it turns out the same thing: almost all the early sheets have obvious traces of the author’s transmissions. Well, indeed, it is not worth the great Malevich at the age of 30 to draw such student lists – why not leave the date five years ago. People are such people, and Malevich is no exception. Another thing is interesting: his faith in his place under the future sun was unique. And each piece of his pen had to say what the artist himself wanted. We also understand and watch. The game of the mind – in fact it was here that Malevich was a real genius.