Hilla Toony Navok at Atelier Shemi / Israel

Hilla Toony Navok / Extensions

Curated by Smadar Schindler
July 14 – 10 November, 2018

Kibbutz Kabri in North Israel

Photo credit: Tal Nisim
Yehiel Shemi (1922-2003) was one of the founders of Israeli sculpture.
His abstract environmental sculptures are displayed and celebrated in open spaces around the country. He has won the prestigious “Israel prize” (1986) and was the first Israeli artist to have his work acquired for the Moma collection. For most of his life, Shemi worked at his Atelier in Kibbutz Kabri.

For the last few months, sculptor Hilla Toony Navok has worked in Shemi’s Atelier and sculpture garden, on his canonical metal works, 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 Shemi’s 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 Shemi’s works – an artist she “grew on”, like any other Israeli abstract sculptor of her generation – 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 to 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 cheep awning for cafes. The PVC colors are always basic, bold and simple. Their colorfulness is sticking out, meant to define a territory. They have a plastic, synthetic feel. 
her extensions and interventions in Shemi’s sculptures continues the movements and rhythms she found in his works. The sculptures original formalistic were strengthened, while the movement was lengthened from within a common harmony.

The gaze Navok offers on Shemi’s sculptures is a contemplating one.  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.
The intense meeting between Shemi’s heavy metal – a bearer of organic traces of time – with Navok’s light, short-lived PVC’s, illuminates anew both of the artists sculpture, raising questions of place, time and Israeli sculpture. 

In the room where Shemi used to paint, a different meeting between Shemi and Navok is taking place. Here, displayed next to each other, a hugh 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. 

The concept of extension is found also in this part of the exhibition – the wide and impressive collages wall can be seen as an installation, a wall that is a whole new work by itself, a work created by the meeting of two bodies of works that shares an inner dynamic.