Isolated fragments of displaced body parts, text, ready-made elements (such as the thermometer), and geometric planes of color compose this unconventional military portrait. The flat shapes of Cubist collage were the immediate precedent for the abstraction in Malevich's work, but rather than venturing into collage, here he isolated large, undivided squares of color. His goal was, he wrote, to separate visual forms (shapes, for example) from their cultural meaning—to "confront the viewer with the fact that pictorial signs are not transparent to their referents but have an existence of their own."
Isolated fragments of displaced body parts juxtaposed with collage elements and geometric planes of color compose this unconventional military portrait. A reservist is an army-trained officer under the age of forty-three who, like the artist, could be called up in the event of war. A dominant blue square floats in place of the face one might expect. For Malevich the form of the square embodied physical and spiritual qualities: "The square is not a subconscious form. It is the creation of intuitive reason. It is the face of the new art."