The occult’s return to art: ‘Before, you’d have been laughed out of the gallery’

There is a surge of interest in spirituality and mysticism at the moment, currently manifesting in both art practice and gallery programming, which extends to exhibitions such as Tantra at the British Museum, and The Botanical Mind at Camden Art Centre. In truth, things have been a bit witchy, a bit shamanic, in the art world for a few years. But this wave feels different: heavier, darker, more engaged. Rather than the hipster witchery of a few years ago, this new spirituality is rooted in explorations of feminism, anti-colonialism and alternative power structures. …

A number of the female mystics whose work appears in The Art of the Occult also feature alongside Treister’s seance pictures in Not Without My Ghosts, which explores the idea of the artist as spirit medium. Among them are mystic artists of the 19th century such as Georgiana Houghton, who produced drawings with the assistance of spirit guides. As spirit mediums, women were afforded leadership they could not have assumed in Victorian society beyond the sphere of the seance. Many were also connected to the struggle for women’s suffrage.

By Hettie Judah, The Guardian

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