To accompany the 0.10 exhibition, Malevich published a booklet entitled From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism, in which he argued that ‘The artist can be a creator only when the forms in his picture have nothing in common with nature’. Dismissing the artists of the past as mere ‘counterfeiters’ of nature, he declares:
Suprematism is the beginning of a new culture… Our world of art has become new, nonobjective, pure. Everything has disappeared; a mass of material is left from which a new form will be built.
At the heart of suprematism was colour, harnessed into geometric forms. Many of the compositions convey a sense of agitation and movement, of forms drifting together or apart, in a finely balanced tension between order and chaos, while the white background against which they float carries a suggestion of infinite space.
Malevich’s creative energy and visionary fervour is particularly striking given that he made these works at the height of a disastrous war, amid food shortages, collapsing morale and widespread despair at the squandering of human life. Malevich himself was a reservist, and knew that he could be called up at any moment. Finally, in July 1916, he was summoned to join his unit, and over the next few months could only return to his work intermittently.