Chashnik (1902 -1929) was a founding member of UNOVIS and Suprematist artist.
He began studying art as an 11-year-old in Yehuda Pen’s School of Drawing and Painting which operated as a private enterprise in Vitebsk in the Russian Empire. Whilst it wasn’t technically a Jewish school, many of its pupils and teachers were and it did not open on a Saturday. Chashnik was taught by Marc Chagall.
Illya Chashnik The Thistle
Born into a Jewish family in Lucyn in the Russian Empire, in what is today in Latvia, Chashnik moved to Moscow after the revolution in 1918 to work in the new Soviet States Art Workshops which were directed by Kazimir Malevich. When Malevich was offered the opportunity to take a senior role at the Vitebsk School of Drawing and Painting by Chagall, Chashnik followed him leaving Moscow behind. Two years later Chagall left for Paris handing over total responsibility to Malevich.
The school became a hotbed of creativity and development of Soviet visual propaganda and a laboratory for the development of communist ideas interpreted through the medium of art. It bore little connection to the pre-revolutionary school.
It was here that Suprematism was developed. Integral to all of this was the highly influential group of artists, including Chashnik, who named themselves UNOVIS and POSNOVIS. Malevich was their natural leader. They developed their ideas and created their own manifesto, engaging in all aspects of promoting Suprematism and communist ideas. Along with other members of the group, Chashnik took ‘group’ responsibility for what was produced.
Composition 1926-7 Public Domain
In 1922 Chashnik with the rest of UNOVIS relocated to Petrograd what is today St Petersburg, in order to widen the reach of their work. In 1923 their influence began to wane and the group went their separate ways, Malevich became head of the Petrograd State Institute of Artistic Culture. Chashnik took up a job in the Lomonosov state porcelain factory as an artist and also created posters. Later he was employed by various art institutions.
He died in his mid-20s having more than made his mark.
Suprematist Composition 1922-3
UNOVIS: Utverditeli Novogo Iskusstva, champions of the new art
POSNOVIS: Posledovateli Novogo Iskusstva, followers of the new art
MOLPOSNOVIS: young followers of the new art
All images are in the public domain