“There is a significant difference between not getting a deal signed and having your head cut off. Business is mental. War is mental and physical. The true warrior has not difficulty understanding this difference regardless of all the hype suggesting that ‘business is war’. It absolutely is not.”
Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

Hilma af Klint

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A few months ago an article appeared in my twitter feed (I believe via Michael Pollan) about the Hilma af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim museum. I do not consider myself at all associated or in touch with the world of art so I hesitated to engage, but because if came from Michael Pollan (who’s context at this time is psychedelics) I did … and, like many other tabs, it stayed open until I had an opportunity to look into it.

When I finally got around to it … I was going to use the expression “it took my breath away” but the opposite happened … I experienced a long and relaxing exhale into these incredible drawings and into myself. I did an image search to see more and the search result itself felt like a mesmerizing work of art.

I spent quite some time with these images and then did some more searching and reading … until I discovered an article that had an image like this, where the physical scale of her work (especially the series of ten images titled “The Ten Largest”) became clear … and I can only imagine what it is to take these works in at full scale

Discovering Hilma af Klint’s work was an experience similar to meeting Shahar. It cut through layers of intellectual inhibition and pretense. It reminded me that art does not require intellectualized understanding, that it is a felt experience. It reminded me to trust myself, to trust in my own felt experience. It penetrated my heart. It sat there and resonated clearly, softly and intensely inside me. It shattered through alienation and made me feel a belonging.

A book of her work now lives next to me. Actually it came with another book, but that is for another sharing. The context of her life, in which her work was created is as touching as her work … a woman, 120 years ago!, within a small group of 5 women exploring the occult, inviting and acting on spiritual guidance … birthing abstract expression when the very notion of such work was still on the horizon of imagination. Then asking that her work be kept private until the time was right for it to meet the world (long after she departed her body) … which took almost a century. So much of that story resonates with me and gives me a sense of … distant, lonely and intimate companionship.

HIlma af Klint

I’ve been playing around with painting for some time. The current iteration of paint-play was triggered by Christopher Alexander mentioning gouache in The Nature of Order (book 4 goes into color). It took me some time to pronounce the word gouache out-loud and recognize it as something I’d already met it in my childhood. It took me some more time to experiment with it again and then to find and experience the qualities of good paint. I was curious and amused to discover that “The Ten Largest” were painted with tempera (a water color similar in quality to gouache).

I felt and continue to feel that something came loose inside me when absorbing Hilma af Klint’s work. It is inviting me to explore something in my own painting. I’m curious to see over time what that may look like.

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