‘Every time I succeed in finishing one of my sketches, my understanding of humanity, animals, plants, minerals, or the entire creation, becomes clearer. I feel freed and raised up above my limited consciousness.’ Hilma af Klint
The newly-acquired general fiction title we would like to focus on this month is The Friday Night Club by Sofia Lundberg, a fictionalised account of the real-life group of women artists formed by Hilma af Klint at the start of the twentieth century .
If you were lucky enough to see the recent exhibition of her work at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, you will be familiar with her extraordinary work. And her real life was as revolutionary as her art.
The art world has long been male-dominated and controlled the narrative for the story of art, claiming that the first modern abstract paintings were created by male artists such as Malevich or Mondrian. However, the mystic visionary Swedish artist Hilma af Klint should actually receive the credit. Inspired by mystic visions, she created her own abstract visual language years before these artists.
Hilma worked at a time when creative freedoms for women were rare and limited. Yet from this reality she created a huge body of abstract work that predated Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian or, indeed, any of the other male artists credited as inventing modern abstract art.
Hilma af Klint’s body of work has only relatively recently been given the praise it so richly deserved, and it is clear that her work at that time rewrites the history of modern art. Hilma knew her abstract work was way ahead of its time and at her death she left instructions that her work be kept secret until at least twenty years after her death, when she hoped that society would have changed enough to accept her work.
You can access our non-fiction collection of works about Hilma af Klint here.
The Friday Night Club / Lundberg, Sofia
” Early 1900s: The world belongs to men, and the art world in Stockholm, Sweden, is no different, until Hilma af Klint brings together a mysterious group of female painters and writers-Anna, Cornelia, Sigrid, and Mathilda-to form their own emotional and artistic support system. … Over a century later, an associate curator at the Guggenheim Museum, Eben Elliot, brings the Hilma af Klint show to New York where he uncovers questions about the Five and how the modern day art world is funded, which puts him in a precarious position both emotionally and professionally, as he witnesses how history can be manipulated. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Chain-gang all-stars / Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame
” Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
Retrospective / Vásquez, Juan Gabriel
“The Colombian film director, Sergio Cabrera, is in Barcelona for a retrospective of his work. It’s a hard time for him: his father, famous actor Fausto Cabrera, has just died; his marriage is in crisis; and his home country has rejected peace agreements that might have ended more than fifty years of war. In the course of a few intense days, as his films are on exhibit, Sergio recalls the events that marked his family’s unusual and dramatic lives: especially his father’s, his sister Marianella’s and his own. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)