Hili Greenfeld

Artist Interview

Hili Greenfeld was scheduled to be ONCA’s artist in residence in July last year, with a subsequent solo exhibition following in August, however due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak this couldn’t happen as planned. Instead Hili made new work in response to her experience of confinement, adapting her practice to use what was available at the time. MaGifa (meaning pandemic in Hebrew) reveals new works created by the artist during the first lockdown in Tel Aviv, Israel which can be viewed here.

Here Hili shares a bit more about her practice and life as an artist.

Q. What would you say are the main themes within your work?

In my practice I try to understand the human nature of ritual and memory and its output in creativity. I see it everywhere and I try to trace it. I want to encapsulate the action of a ritual in objects and paintings through a playful colorful aesthetic. At times it is accompanied with a background story. Different references accumulate into a shrine looking installation that ‘exhibits’ objects, paintings and structures. The act of storytelling has also had a great influence on me. I want to create in my art the feeling I receive from a story, a book, a tale. 

Q. What artists influence you or inspire your work?

Many creatives influence my work. I feel that influences and inspirations are so wide and do not necessarily come from the Art world but from life.

Having said that, I look at ancient art (for example Persian, Egyptian, Japanese). I look for artefacts, archaeological sites, temples and holy places usually combined in nature. I also find interest in children’s paintings.  Specifically in the art field I recently have been looking for women artists of all times, because I feel there was not enough room for them in my whole art education in the institutions. So most recently I was inspired by South African artist Jane Alexander’s work, Katherine Grosse’s painting installations, Heidi Bucher and Hilma af Klint. I love the work of the Egyptian artist Wael Shawky with his puppets and magical aesthetic, and also love the smart story telling style of Waalid Raad. 

Q. What other projects are you working on at the moment or have coming up in the future?

At the moment there’s a show I curated at ArtCube Gallery Jerusalem of an artist friend whose work I appreciate a lot, Pearl Schneider. In addition I am working on illustrations for different purposes.

Q. If you could give your younger self some advice for when you were first starting out as an artist what would it be?

Oh wow if I could I would give lots of advice to myself! The most important one is not to be distracted by criticism of any kind. Yes – listen and learn from it, but not to let it doubt yourself and discourage me. I understood it pretty early. But I still remind myself – to be open to different opinions, but to remember that for my creation – my belief is the most important one. When I am honest with myself and create from this point of view it will alway have a better result in all aspects than trying to satisfy someone else.

Q. Has your practice changed since the pandemic, and if so how?

It has changed significantly. At first, when the whole thing began, I felt like the only thing I wanted to do was draw or paint, specifically plants and vegetation. I could not think (like before) about installations and structures in physical spaces. It was also not relevant because all the physical art encounters have been closed. Everything became very introversive. And I liked it at first. I was drawing from my everyday close environment. 

The situation enabled me a simple approach to creation. Maybe it enabled me to feel like going back to childhood drawing. Where there was no final purpose – in an exhibition or show. The medium of painting and drawing which I love came back to my life. It developed and I began thinking how can I connect this creation to the art world outside, in a way that is building for it a place – like I do in my installations. That is how MaGifa began. This developed to insert a beat unto a drawing, existing in the space of screens, specifically in the web page space. I felt that my usual artistic approach is still the same but that it found a new path to go through.

Learn more about Hili’s work at our Meet the Artist event, tickets and more information here.

Artist Bio

Hili Greenfeld’s art connects fragments of private memory to cultural narratives in shrine-like installations. These installations consist of imitations of relics – objects that testify both to our desire to capture time through the objects that persist through it, and our inability to finally make peace with the change and decay that time brings. We can perceive and handle time only indirectly: by recalling memories, telling stories, performing rituals and keeping objects that bear traces of the past. She calls these installations ‘environments’ because they combine manipulated ready-mades, sculptures and paintings, creating a complex, integrated space. Though memories are elusive and private rather than concrete and public, these scenes reify personal memories and thus enable them to be shared.

Like temples, these environments subtly guide the visitors’ movements and pace. By combining and layering different materials – plaster, plastic, concrete, wood, metal, pigment, paint, manipulated ready-mades – the paintings and sculptures simulate the layers of time, evoking a tactile sense of the fragility of history. By recycling parts of one painting or installation in another one, the body of work as a whole partakes in a cycle of memory and cross-references, creating a labyrinth of remains.

Greenfeld’s work has been exhibited in Israel, London, Singapore, Korea, Slovenia, New York and Amsterdam. Recently she had a solo exhibition at Bradwolff Projects, Amsterdam in cooperation with BijlmAir CBK Zuidoost where she was artist in residence. She was artist in residence at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore (2012), and at Tobačna 001 Cultural Center Ljubljana, a collaboration with the Centre for Digital Art in Holon, where she had a solo show (2016).

Greenfeld received the Rabinovich Foundation grant in 2015 and in 2017 for solo exhibitions. She received a grant from the Resisim Association for ‘Snow Table’ at Hansen Gallery Bezalel (2015) and was awarded research grants from Asylum Arts, Via Sabra LTD for ‘The Sweet Water Canal’ solo exhibition that was exhibited at Art Cube Gallery in Jerusalem (2017). From 2016 – 2018 she received the Artist-Teacher Scholarship for teaching art at the Center for Arab-Jewish Youth at Risk in Jaffa. In 2018 she exhibited, at The Museum of Islamic Art and at Architect House, Jaffa both supported with grants for a new artwork, at the 10th Fresh Paint Art fair and at the Gamma International Invited Exhibition, Yonsei University, Seoul.

Greenfeld holds an MFA (2013) and a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, where she received the Presser Award (2007). She also studied at Slade School of Fine Arts in London (2006), and later in the Literature Department at Tel Aviv University (2010).