Monday, May 9, 2016

Hilma af Klint

Once in a while I come across an artist I've never heard of.

Scratch that. More like come across, but never took the time to delve into. Perhaps even more embarrassingly, I'd read over the name too fast and think that the writer meant "Klimt." All of this cost me an indoctrination to the art of Hilmat af Klint. Thanks to an article in The Economist's 1843 Magazine, I can rectify those mistakes and I'm glad for multiple reasons. 

Af Klint, a Swedish artist active in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries did obviously produce arresting paintings. Of immediate interest are the abstract swaths of pink, burnt orange, lilac, and biomorphic shapes with numbers and letters interspersed among it all, hung upon swirled, curlicue lines. As if the visuals were not enticing enough, the motivations behind them only make them all the more intriguing.

She was painting her interpretation of the spirit world. Af Klint was a member of an all-female group called De Fem, mediums and occultists that regularly made contact with entities they called "the high masters." In fact, af Klint said she painted only what the high masters directed her to from these communications. So I suppose instead of the automatic writing said to be practiced by other mediums, af Klimt was an "automatic painter."

Abstract stream of consciousness or actual depiction of an ethereal realm? Who can say? If one has an immediate answer to that, it likely says more about your view of the world than af Klint's.

For me, the veracity or the true nature of the inspiration doesn't matter. It is true spiritual art on par with any contemporary depictions in churches (hence why the article suggests Googling "modern chasubles.") It's a view, whether interpreted or fabricated, of something we can't see, of perhaps the greatest mystery of all, beyond even UAP.

What is beyond the veil of death? What is the human spirit, if indeed it exists in the first place? Is there something beyond and more meaningful than any of...this?

Christ I hope so.

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