Tadeusz Peiper’s “Malevich in Poland” (1927)
Translated from the Polish by Steven Lindberg. From
Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European
Avant-Gardes, 1910-1930. (The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 2002).
• • •
In Russia Kazimir Malevich spent his most creative years; in Russia he found his first disciples. Russia was prepared to be his workshop, and it opened up to him its expanses of influences. Such ties bind an artist so tightly that he cannot free himself even with the greatest effort. For that reason Malevich, a Pole, is only passing through when he comes to Poland.
The name Malevich is not unknown in Poland. The Polish reader encountered it first in Zwrotnica, then in Blok and Praesens, where from the beginning it was associated with an extraordinary intellectual daring, a productive spirit of invention, a precision in grasping artistic problems, and a strong character that, with the utmost tenacity, guided an idea to the highest purity. This intellectual gift was decisive for his conception of art as an activity that remains untouched by utilitarian demands. When a certain group of artists in Russia wanted to allow art to rise in the sourdough of politics, Malevich carefully kept watch over its form.
His work is already impressive solely on the basis of its brilliant results. On his paths toward solutions Malevich was far ahead of the work of European avant-garde artists, and many of the movements that have flooded over young Europe under a variety of names can be traced back to the Suprematism he founded.
Polish artists are overcome with melancholy at the thought that the Pole Malevich is not here working at their side. After all, our artistic life is not exactly rich with artists of his caliber; his collaboration could give new impetus to Polish art and could provide valuable support. We miss Malevich. Our comrades in Warsaw should do everything they can to create at least comparable working conditions to those Russia has offered him. How happy we would be to greet him today with a chorus of joyful cries, but we cannot. The sadness that our countryman comes to us only as a guest stifles our voices! Malevich should not just visit us! Malevich should not just visit us!
[Originally published as “Malewicz w Polsce,” in Zwrotnica no. 11 (1927)]