Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen
29 March 2016
Swedish painter Hilma af Klint 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.
This exhibition of her work at the Serpentine Gallery focuses primarily on her body of work, The Paintings for the Temple, which date from 1906–15.
Consisting of 193 predominately abstract paintings in various series and subgroups, af Klint sought to depict a harmony between the spiritual and material worlds; good and evil; man and woman; religion and science. This theme of duality is reflected formally in her work through the use of colour, composition and symbols and in the way in which abstraction and figuration co-exist and are presented without hierarchy.
The series which we found the most capitvating is entitled ‘The Ten Largest’, a study of the four ages of man: childhood, youth and adulthood which are evoked with bright, diverse forms and floral imagery. Germ cells, blossoms, seeds, stamens morph between a microscopic and macrocosmic range reminiscent of Ernst Haeckel’s Art Forms in Nature. Old age (and finally death) are depicted as a dreamy monochromatic expanse, not something to be feared, but simply a release into a new kind of reality.
A very thought provoking body of work, full of symbolism by an artist who was clearly ahead of her time.
On until the 15th May 2016 at the Serpentine Gallery [FREE]
The Dove, No. 1, 1915
The Ten Largest, No. 8 Adulthood 1907
The Ten Largest, No. 1 & 2 Childhood, 1907