Hilma af Klint (1862 – 1944, Stockholm, Sweden) made paintings inspired by her lifelong obsessions with spiritualism and the occult.
Characterised by a flowing and graphic abstraction, her early paintings replicate the automatic drawings made during séances she held with a group of friends known as The Five. It was at these séances that she first met the spiritual leaders that stayed with her throughout her life, Gregor and Ananda. Although she was also a commercially successful portraits and landscapes painter, she embarked on a lifelong dedication to her ‘leaders’, making over one thousand paintings in secret which she insisted must not be shown to the public until 20 years after her death. Camden Arts Centre presented the first solo exhibition of her paintings in the UK.
With her use of grids, geometry and flat applications of colour, Hilma af Klint seems to predate stylistically a ‘modern’ sense of abstraction though she never entirely gave up representing ‘things’. Made in series, they evoke primordial forces and themes of evolution giving form to both the transcendental and the physical, sensory world. Perhaps she knew she was ahead of her time and that her work would come to be better appreciated in the future, as certainly her drawings and paintings resonate with many artists working today.
A new publication produced by Douglas Hyde Gallery was launched at Camden Art Centre.
All works courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm.