Friday, December 18, 2015

Observingarts: Hilma af Klint, once more

Hilma af Klint
The Dove, No. 2, Group IX/ UW, The SUW/UW Series, 1915
© Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk. 
Photo: Moderna Museet/Albin Dahlström

A couple of weeks after visiting the Hilma af Klint exhibition at Henie Onstad Art Center in Oslo, these remarkable paintings still have a hold on me. Not only as pictures, but more as monumental statement of how narrow our shared agreement on what kind of expression and perception we allow for. Today we admire what could not be exposed 100 years ago.

The strong presence and will in Klints artworks - purposely hidden from her contemporary audience - tells a stronger story than the visual content itself. The themes from spiritualism and philosophy they depict were well know and discussed in her time. The problem was for a female artist to introduce them in the format of paintings. Munch was neither well received by some of his contemporary, but he had some obvious advantages.

So: does it take 100 years for genuine art to become relevant? Does the same hold true for today? Or on the contrary – would some contemporary art gain relevance from 100 years of storage? How do we really treat spiritualism in art today? With a shrug? Does Klint need an extra 50 years of storage?  Or does art represent a time capsule independent of moods and time?  A 100 years more to pass and we can rationally and without having to confront our self, observe relevant expressions in art as exotic insects pinned within frames. 

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