In 1907, at the exhibition of the Moscow Society of Painters, Malevich presented a cycle of works titled Sketches for Frescoes. The mystical, esoteric air of these paintings is very reminiscent of the works of the Russian Symbolists, who, in their search for the indefinite, the indescribable and the inexplicable, filled their canvases with an almost musical harmony of vibrant colors.
In this Self-Portrait, Malevich has utterly transformed his appearance. Positioned in an Eden-like garden, surrounded by worshipful, singing figures, he takes on an almost godlike quality. Moreover, the use of the color yellow is analogous to the Tabor Light, the light that illuminated Jesus during his transfiguration on Mount Tabor. It radiates like an inner sun, illuminating the entirety of the pictorial space without creating any shadow. Of course, this image went far beyond contemporary artistic norms. It stands out for the insight it provides into how the artist saw himself at the time, and the impossibility of placing him within the constraints of any of the artistic movements of the period.
Some years later, Malevich wrote: “I am the starting-point for everything. Within my consciousness, worlds are created. If I seek God, I look inside myself. And if I cannot find the starting-point, I exclaim: “And God created me in his own image and likeness!” That is how I now perceive God. His face and mine are identical”.