The story follows the artistic career and spiritual awakening of Hilma af Klint as she tries to make sense of the world when her beloved younger sister dies tragically. Young af Klint is admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm and meets a group of like-minded artists who also share her interests and beliefs in the spiritual world. They found a collective called ‘The Five' that creates art inspired by the spiritual world and aim to create and build a temple for the work, but the art world isn't quite ready to welcome or understand these new ideas.
Hilma af Klint was little known in the art world when she was live. But after she instructed her nephew not to open her works (and the collective's) for 20 years after her death, even then her work was not entirely appreciated. But in 2019 an exhibition of her art was held at the famed Guggenheim Museum, a similar building which represented af Klint had drawn decades before, did her art find its temple. Hilma af Klint has been recognised as of the Western world's first abstract artists, a pioneer. As with any film about a celebrated artist, particularly those who were never appreciated while they were living, this story attempts to give the recognition Hilma didn't receive.
As a story about a woman whose work is dismissed in her lifetime, there is merit. Hilma af Klint's art and her connection with the spirit world is fascinating. The moments of inspiration and the creation of the historical artwork, especially the giant paintings the group make is quite thrilling to watch. But as a biopic, the story falters, falling into the stereotypical beats of this genre. There are aspects of af Klint's life that are also only touched upon and hinted at such as her relationships with fellow artist Anna Cassel and her mother's nurse Thomasine Andersson, giving way to spiritualism and painting. The human connections af Klint makes along her journey are also some of the most intriguing part of the film, such as when ‘The Five' finally build their temple. The creation and construction of this building could have been given more time. Both Tora Hallström (the director Lasse Hallström's daughter) and Lena Olin embody the artist with all their soul, each giving decent performances. But seeing as the film concentrates on af Klint's younger years, Olin isn't given as much screen time as you would hope for.
Hilma is a wonderful exploration of an artist that put her passions into her work and was ahead of her time. Hopefully her story will find its audience and those who wish to discover an under appreciated artist.
Hilma will be released in UK Cinemas from 28th October
Early 2023, Hilma will also be available on Viaplay UK, Viaplay's streaming service set to launch in the UK this autumn