Monday, May 02, 2016

Hilma af Klint at the Serpentine gallery

I was very pleased to be able to get to see the Hilma af Klint exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery.
The exhibition is on till May 15th and definitely worth seeing. Gallery website here

I am always looking for artists who have a spiritual dimension to their work, and Hilma's work is all about that.

As it says on the Serpentine Gallery website, the "Serpentine Galleries presents exhibition  of Swedish painter Hilma  af Klint  (1862–1944), who is now regarded as  a pioneer  of abstract  art. While her paintings were not  seen publicly until  1986, her  work from  the early  20th century pre-dates the  first  purely abstract  paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich.

Klint originally painted landscapes and botanical works, but left them in favour of pursuing more abstract and symbolic works based on occult and spiritual dimensions.

She was interested in the work of Rudolf Steiner and formed a group with four other women called The Five. They conducted séances and the work in this exhibition comes from a series called The Paintings for the Temple, a commission from an entity called  Amaliel.

Surprisingly I found that a lot of her paintings had thin layers of oil paint, used almost like watercolours, with sections of the canvas showing through. Though some of the paintings are not particularly bright in colour, they have a luminosity that makes them shine.

The three large paintings in the entrance to the exhibition glow with light and colour that draws you into their world.

Klint's work is definitely work to see in the flesh, there is so much that has been taken or reflects her work in graphic design over the last 40 years which can make the work seem familiar. But in terms of presence, the paintings are much more unusual and arresting.

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