Review: Be Greeted By Neon Breasts At The Serpentine Galleries

Hilma Af Klimt / Das Institut ★★☆☆☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 23 months ago
Review: Be Greeted By Neon Breasts At The Serpentine Galleries Hilma Af Klimt / Das Institut 2
These neon breasts are quite the greeting for visitors to the Serpentine Sackler. © Uli Holz

Normally the Serpentine has two very different shows in its two galleries. But hold the press: this time it's gone abstract in both.

Question is, does this change-up hit the spot?

At the Serpentine Gallery is the work of Swedish painter Hilma Af Klint; she's an abstract artist who pre-dates revolutionary painters like Mondrian and Malevich. But her secretive life means her work has remained largely under appreciated.

Klint lived an interesting existence, dabbling in the occult and seances, as well as having a fascination with the natural world. She went so far as to stipulate that her abstract work must not be displayed until 20 years after her death.

Unfortunately her paintings are not as interesting as her life. There are signs of biological and Iluminati-esque symbols in her work, but it all feels very undercooked and easy to dismiss.

Over at the Serpentine Sackler is the artistic duo Das Institut. If Klint expresses subtle abstraction, this is her on steroids: neon breasts, trippy paintings and discordant music is nothing less than an audiovisual assault.

But much like the Klint exhibition, the ideas trying to take shape just seem to lose their way.

Both exhibitions are covering subject matter with potential, but neither was able to leave much of an impression on us.

The Yin and Yang of the swans is Klint's strongest work. © Jerry Hardman-Jones

Hilma Af Klint: Painting the Unseen and Das Institut are on at the Serpentine and Serpentine Sackler galleries respectively. Both are free to enter and are on until 15 May.

For more art see our top 10 exhibitions for March.

Last Updated 04 March 2016