Ivan Kos usually created portraits in watercolours and drawings, but his collected works include also several female portraits in oil on canvas. After he had returned (as a young man) from his studies in Prague in 1924, he first attempted to establish himself as a freelance artist but due to financial difficulties soon took up a job as a drawing artist at the dermatology department of the local hospital in Maribor. Later, he also taught painting at the Maribor Grammar School. Although some of Kos’ portraits from 1920s, when his painting reached its first peak, approached New Objectivity, the majority did not follow contemporary artistic trends; characteristic of them are subjects with recognizably realistic features. Among them is the Portrait of Malka, where he emphasized the contrast between the dark background and clothes and the woman’s light skin. Her large dark eyes gaze at the viewer; her cheeks are full and rosy, and her lips are tightly pressed; the young girl is very lively and she seems to be lost in her thoughts. Malka was the painter’s great youthful love, and their love letters are still preserved in the Maribor archives. Although she was ill and died young, she remained one of the most frequently portrayed faces in his artistic oeuvre. Malka may also be the person in Kos’ most famous work, Girl With an Orange, but this cannot be confirmed due to differences in the facial features.
(Lejla Kruško, in the framework of the Creative Path to Knowledge project, Virtual Legends; The investment is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union from the European Social Fund)