The Art Gallery of New South Wales is delighted to announce Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings, the first major survey in the Asia Pacific region of visionary Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), whose remarkable body of abstract and mystical paintings bring new perspectives to the narratives of modern art and has become an international sensation.
When af Klint began creating her ambitious new works in 1906, no one had seen paintings like hers before – so monumental in scale, with such radiant colour combinations, enigmatic symbols and other-worldly shapes. Influenced by the spiritualist practices of her time, af Klint believed that her paintings contained messages for humanity communicated to her through the visions she received from spirits.
Stored away and scarcely known for decades, the startling re-discovery of af Klint’s “secret paintings” has captured the imagination of contemporary audiences, with a 2019 exhibition of her work at the Guggenheim Museum breaking attendance records and taking New York by storm.
Opening in June, Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings is a new exhibition, featuring more than 100 works, curated by Sue Cramer from Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne, who collaborated with Art Gallery of NSW senior curator of modern and contemporary international art Nicholas Chambers for its presentation in Sydney.
Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand said: “Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover the extraordinary artistic achievements of this trailblazing artist who stood for too long outside the accepted story of European modernism.
“In an era of limited creative freedom for women, af Klint’s secret paintings became an outlet for her prodigious intelligence, spiritual quest and ground-breaking artistic vision,” said Brand.
“We are privileged to present this exhibition of af Klint’s remarkably forward-looking paintings. Very few of them were exhibited during her lifetime, and only in the last decade have these works started to receive the detailed attention they deserve. Af Klint is at last taking her place in the canon of truly imaginative and innovative twentieth-century artists.’
A centrepiece of the exhibition is The Ten Largest 1907, ten huge exuberantly colourful paintings, brimming with wondrous arrangements of shapes and motifs, through which the artist explores the four stages of human development.