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Malevich's 2nd Peasant Cycle brought in a number of exciting artworks, one of which we find in front of us here. Woman with Rake was completed in around 1932 which came towards the end of the artist's life.
This dramatic portrait features a peasant woman holding a rake in an aggressive manner. The lack of facial features was common for how the artist produced figures at this time and turns each person into an anonymous figure, which is perhaps how the left viewed the population at this time. The strength of the nation, as they saw it, was through hard work from everybody for the greater good and those who worked in the agricultural sector were celebrated as being particularly important. Malevich would use clear plains of colour at this time and also keep detail to a minimum. We can spot buildings in the far distance, with the figure standing menacingly in front of us, and with little or no detail filling the in between. Simple stripes of colour work across horizontally, with bright tones of green, pink and orange helping to develop this modern look.
Peasant life would become a strong part of the artist's oeuvre when he reverted back to depicting items from the real world. His Suprematist period ended after problems from the state who disapproved of his modern approach and rejection of reality. They wanted art which was more suitable to their own narrative and reluctantly Malevich would have to tow the line to a certain degree. Some of his more ambitious works remained abroad, as he wished, and this ensured that his legacy would continue to spread even whilst he himself was heavily constrained. Today we are able to see a good body of work from his career, with records of destroyed paintings helping us to really appreciate the full breadth of his artistic experiments which continue to inspire young artists today.
The painting is around one metre in height and follows the standard aspect ratio of a portrait painting, even though the style is so modern. Woman with Rake can now be found in the prestigious Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia. This city boasts an enviable collection of art, including many famous items of European painting and sculpture which sit alongside the nation's contribution to other cultural disciplines such as music and dance. In truth, it would be hard to find many cities with a greater cultural offering than Moscow, though St Petersburg also serves a similarly important role on Russia's western border. Russians remain very proud of the influence made by their homegrown artistic talents, such as Malevich, even though the ruling powers may have impaired his progress at times during his own life. Thankfully, things have moved on to a certain degree and the country now appreciates the different styles which make up its artistic history.