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Extensions: Hilla Toony Navok at Atelier Shemi

Hilla Toony Navok
In 2018, artist Hilla Toony Navok added additions to Yehiel Shemi’s canonical metal works at his atelier and sculpture garden in Kibbutz Kabri, connecting them to her colorful, fragile, abstract sculptures to create new sculptural surroundings. Navok, who usually works with cheap, every day, perishable materials, offers a new, intimate and ironic view of Shemi’s heavy, “masculine” work.
Navok’s interest in Yehiel Shemi’s (1922-2003) work stems, in her words, from complex feelings – on the one hand, appreciation and attraction to the scale and intensity of his works, to his commitment to material and method, and an admiration for his durable sculptures, which are made to last forever. On the other hand, Navok’s sculptures are always modular and easy to dismantle – suspicious by nature toward any modernistic, monumental and doubtless construction.
Navok’s intense encounter with Yehiel Shemi’s works – an artist she “grew up on”, urged her to integrate her works with his, to bring them closer to the viewer, to “lessen” their totality and seriousness, and lower those monumental sculpture and adapt them to a human-size level. Navok’s interventions in Shemi’s works are made out of PVC coated fabric – a cheap covering material, popular in Israel for enclosing part of sidewalks for street eateries and as a cheap awning for cafes. The PVC colors are always basic, bold, and simple. Their colorfulness carves out a new space.
The gaze Navok offers on Shemi’s sculptures is one of contemplation. Her interventions allow the viewer to get close the sculpture, to observe it’s beauty, it’s unevenness and flaws; to see it at eye level, instead of looking at it as a perfect, complete and closed unit.
In the room where Shemi used to paint, a different meeting between Shemi and Navok took place. Here, displayed next to each other, the wall is covered by both artists abstract paper collages. Shemi started working with collage in the 70’s, emphasizing his interest in tensions, balance between forms, naked materials and torn borders.
Text: Smadar Schindler, Curator of the exhibition
Extensions: Hilla Toony Navok at Atelier Shemi, Hard Cover, 104 pages. With essays by Ruti Direktor (Head curator for contemporary art at Tel Aviv Museum of Art) and Hila Cohen-Schneiderman, Chief curator at Bat Yam Museum of Art, Tel Aviv). Printed with the kind support of Artport and Atelier Shemi.



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