Hilma af Klint: occultist, mystic and painter

  • 2017

Hilma af Klint was born in Sweden in 1862, within a Protestant bourgeois naval family with no interest in art. He grew up in Karlberg Castle, a naval academy and was noted for being mathematical, scientific and, curious-musical. Swedish and mystical artist, Klint painted about 1200 works, of which at least 200 were created during trance rituals and inspired by his esoteric beliefs.


As a child, she demonstrated the media gifts. It is said that he became interested in the occult after the death of his sister Hermina, 10 years old. In addition to dealing with this loss, Klint encountered the new and increasingly popular spiritual movement: Theosophy. At that time, the leader of this movement was Helena Petrova Blavatsky, who traveled the world sharing her philosophy and beliefs. Blavatsky established the Theosophical Society in 1875, of which Klint joined in 1879, being active in a Swedish lodge. According to several accounts, Klint's first experience in the occult was at the age of 17. In the following decades, Klint's interest in the occult grew stronger and eventually began to influence his painting.

In 1896 he founded a hidden society of women called "The Five", who claimed to have leaders of the spiritual world or "Great Teachers" such as Gregor, Clemens, Amaliel, Ananda and Esther, among others. They dedicated themselves to tracing in art and literature the system of mystical thought transmitted to them. Collectively and privately, this group of women held sessions that led to automatic writing and drawing experiments, which anticipated the surrealists for several decades. Klint drew pictures during the sessions when he was psychically free from bonds. Working in his study, he often reached a transcendent state, understood as first-person expressions of his spirit.


According to Klint, in 1904, Ananda told him to start producing paintings on the astral plane; which would be followed by a period of preparation to mediate a message. In this same year, Klint received a "commission" from an entity called Amaliel who told him to paint on "an astral plane" and represent the "immortal aspects of man." And it was in 1906 when the paintings began. He came to explain that the paintings were painted "through" her with "strength", that is, with a divine dictation: "I had no idea what they were supposed to represent ... I worked quickly and safely, without changing a single brushstroke, ”he once said. He heard a voice that had given him the following message: “You must proclaim a new philosophy of life and you yourself will be part of the new kingdom. Your labors will bear fruit. ” This message gave rise to Klint's first series of abstract paintings, called Primal Chaos, which had a biomorphic form covered with what can only be described as an automatic drawing form. While painting these pictures, he described what was happening while he was meditating: "Amaliel signs a sketch, then lets H paint."

By 1905, Klint noted in his own writings that he felt that the principle of balance and "unity" was lost in the creation of the world, giving way to a universe of polarities: good and evil, woman and man, matter and spirit, science and religion, macrocosm and microcosm and, understanding and solving in his paintings.

In 1907 he had another formative influence, because during that year he was known to have attended one of Annie Besant's lectures in Stockholm, where he revealed the ways of thinking and the visible and invisible man.

Hilma's passion for the natural world connects her traditional and abstract work. He knew the plants (he studied Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist) and the animals (he worked as a cartoonist for a veterinary institute). She became a student of her own work, producing a beautiful and botanically accurate symbolic lexicon. It cannot be easily observed, but of these symbols dominate: the spirals (evolution), the U (the spiritual world), the W (matter) and the overlapping discs (unity). Yellow and pink (nice) meant masculinity. Blue and lilac meant femininity. Yellow was "next to the night"; the blue, "next to the dark." Green was the perfect harmony. He explored the dualities - including male and female sexuality - but unity was always his goal (ironically for an artist who worked alone).

From the images in his paintings, it could be said that Hilma was a disturbing artist, since she was not a laywoman, she was a trained and talented artist who knew about color and composition. His art is like Leonardo's: he wanted to understand who we are as human beings in the cosmos.

He painted on the floor, was vegetarian and always dressed in black. Life, declar, is a farce if a person does not serve the truth .

She was an old-school spiritualist who channeled psychic and esoteric messages from the so-called High Masters - which existed in another dimension - in abstract paintings. Between 1906 and 1915 he completed the `` Paintings for the Temple '' (182 paintings divided into several series) in which he represented the path towards the reconciliation of spirituality with the material world, along with Another duality: faith and science. He used the sessions to make contact with him on the other side, and he saw his paintings and drawings as inspiring symbols of the cosmic balance that the Grand Masters told him to look for.

One of these teachers was Gregor, who said: `` All knowledge that is not of the senses, or of the intellect, or of the heart, but that is property belonging exclusively to the deepest aspect of your to be [ ] is the knowledge of your spirit. This was the knowledge that Hilma tried to reveal in his paintings. He explained this language in a 1907 notebook where he wrote: The purpose of these letters is to prepare the way for a symbolic language that existed at all times and has now been assigned to creative spirits that rewrite humanity.

Sometimes depression hit her. In 1908, after having created 111 paintings, it collapsed. She would have finished a painting every third day - including 10 huge ones. Expected to be exhausted. But there were also other reasons to be discouraged, because that same year, Rudolf Steiner was lecturing in Stockholm. Hilma invited him to see his paintings. While she waited for him to interpret her work, he advised her: "No one should see this for 50 years." Four years after this verdict, Hilma stopped painting and took care of her blind mother.


The paintings were thought of as vehicles of understanding in four stages of life - childhood, youth, maturity and old age. Hilma af Klint referred to these "symmetrical, spontaneous and astral pictures, " as produced under the direction of a Guru for whom she acted as a psychic channel, but also declared: "It was not the case that blindly obeyed the High Lords of the Mysteries, but I had to imagine that they were always by my side. ”

Hilma died in 1944. He left instructions to his nephew, to whom all the paintings were donated. They should not be shown to the public until she was dead for twenty years.

When he died, at 81, he stipulated in his will that his work - 1200 pictures, 100 texts and 26, 000 pages of notes - should not be shown until 20 years after his death.

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