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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Carter

Hilma af Klint - Forms of Life


'Hilma af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life'

Tate Modern, 20th April - 3rd September, 2023



A botanical instruction of sorcery devised by Swedish magician and theosopher Hilma af Klint who did divine such pencil sketches in secret from intermediaries Amaliel, Ananda, and Gregor who themselves as messengers bathed in light heard above the pines these messages from the high masters.


Fig. 1 – Harebell (The Voices)


God forbid Tate Modern steepled a brick exhibit solely to witchcraft. Af Klint’s pink crones evade the museum’s stickily worn leathers of canonicity, and head straight for the big pillowy exhumations of a divine botany unpencilled in the arts' favouring of context over occult. These are ginormous peony blushes of belief systems only for those initiated, like shushed bible paper readings of the sacred text or gong song and with sketchlines still visible within delicate shimmyings of light. Any symbolic inclusion of tactile paraphernalia like goblets, founts, or letters suggest the actioning of the hand and the ground, like all that light is ours for the taking and finally saving us from maths which not even mathematicians can do. So for the sake of keeping things interesting I’ll be eschewing Mondrian’s French OID’s from this review - canon be cannoned down - corrupting his computer suffixes in ritual offering to oaken libraries of scandiwicca, lodge upon solaced lodge of high priestesses and metropolitan cults. A bountiful exchange, art history ignored for a manual of creative euphoria:

(Close ur eyes.)

Up against the walls of breathing now the conch gyro formulator. Drooling sestinas.

Jøkul, glass insula. Mown grass in wind. (Good. What else.)

Erm. Thunder. (More.)

Red Thunder (And?)

And its eggy whip at stone.

(They call that petrichor. Here rocks do bleed.)


Fig. 2 – Ivy (Translation)


Our given ideas of the bright little angels in the 1900s are of Lang’s hallowed brass architects, all pantaloons and tight buns with futurist blueprints tucked under one arm and wafer-sharp god-shanks fisted in the other, but the confusion of the time must have been agonising. You had to scream hymns between salty gulps of water at deities newly calcified just to stay afloat. Whilst contradictions like “invisible substance” and “splitting the atom” were shatteringly bedfellowed on gold bands, af Klint performed her own anatomy of the Æther, chiselling the rhythms of nature down into geometry: spirals and hemispheres, points of emergence. Whether they were fully understood or not, science’s contradictions all seemed to be heading in likewise such a direction, with two opposing forces (probably a somethingness and a nothingness) swanning against each other, and there had been illuminated texts detailing these gravities for millennia. All af Klint did was infographic that shit, presuming that what the numbers were telling those that spoke that stiff language was just the same as her cortex whisperings from The High Masters, Urizen’s booming at Blake on his deckchair or any number of hermit dins over the sea. Af Klint’s working in 'series' lends itself to chronicling, a favourite comprehension method of humankind, and working sequentially, she distils sulfuric dictations into a satisfying linearity.


Ascent<->Descent

Draft<->Complete

Thought<->World


No surprises when you find this same signage in bible verses, in theses, and in meditation’s pendulum between one minute and twenty minutes of devotion, each second vital yet completely singular in its dispersion. In this way, af Klint was just doing with her eyes rolled back what everyone was doing with their eyes glued up against a microscope; making her own instructions towards soulthink. Often her playlisting finds the most disintegrated moment as the centre-point to its strange narrative, constructing its axis mundi around this valley of energy, out of Eden and into the fungal erecta of thought. Like noisy rays of light. The creative process has an intrinsic entropy to its wanderings. In gradients of ideation, one must decide how wet to leave the clay and any entry point for anyone upon what already is made is an incision. The linguistic missionaries of an af Klint ‘series’, then, are determined pillagers of reality. The presenting of absolutes leaves a limbic bloodbath of particulars on the cutting room floor. To exist is just to intrude on the .dot.atom.bindu. and leave all your workings out still on the test paper. Such is the playdate of the prism schism.

“O my, les yeux!” ✦ --𓁹<<


Fig. 3 – Spruce (Prayer)


With the same accessibility of spirituality’s intentional and sanctified misinterpretation of science, af Klint’s hygge witchery is all pink easygoingness. In Scandinavia there is a romancing of old age, its fernlike hug towards elderhood where wrinkles are pleasure-carven by north sea salt and euthanasia is legal. Its runic residuals feel linguistically magick (af Klint’s canvases are mired with the gorgeous cursive threads of “evolutionen”, “vessen”, “anket”, “oskuld” – who cares what the words mean when they susurrate before your eyes like that.) The direct translating of her bubbles into an anthroposophical text seems inapt, its envoi conjuring should be an experiential mode of interpretation. Easy, apothecary. Intuit these weddings, draw your own lines:


Petals. Their softness.

Pollen. It’s Shards.

Romance. Magenta.

Yggdrasil Bark. Wine.

Evo. Ion.

Underworld. Blush.

Hatch. Skin.

Oxbow. Wink.

Stamen. Seashells.


We're in luck. This time we don’t need canonical reflections on Mondrianic nEo-PlAsTiCiTy to see petal pussies. The perfume is the point. And cultivating the canvases' ghost nursery from the crepuscular whole up into mushroom caps and gothic ash is also that backwards iridology straight to the temple floor of The Calyxian Order: exactly what your hard-on was looking for. Unashamed eroticism, deliverance, porn that makes you decide to get a girlfriend. Just quiet candle covens and nuns’ sockfeet going bow shuffle bow. They smile like you wouldn’t get it. Young one. Little wizard. Licking their hand to flatten your cowlick. It’s really empty here, you say sheepishly. “Unfinished”, they smile. And suddenly the walls glow with letters that look like butterflies B s w f i o

O

0

( )

Ovular sprout. Bug-eyed fellows at a roundtable clucking, “A very dangerous theory on evolution indeed.” “Insane, actually, what with the wars about to begin.” Lines castrate pistils and pop bubbles, so there are these wardens of the shiniest archetype from which all other animals are just chimaeras and vegetables are brainless bastards and minerals just their uncarved ax. Plant it in your heart when she comes when she comes and you’ll read why time feels so clean.

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