Maya Gelfman is an artist who is not afraid of anything. She is constantly
pushing boundaries and blurring lines. As both street artist and fine artist,
Gelfman’s work is multi-layered, multi-formed, and truly beyond the scope of
words. Her art speaks for itself, and it speaks volumes. At once both delicate
and assaulting, Gelfman’s work often plays on juxtapositions; making the
ordinary extraordinary. Her new solo exhibition, “Spark,” currently on display
at Zadik Gallery in Tel Aviv through mid-December, is the result of a year spent
sealed inside the studio, completely absorbed.
For those who may be
unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe yourself as an artist?
me is a way of life. I seek to explore, experiment, delve and create in a
complete manner. I see it as a mirror; allowing perspective, reality, and a
parallel reality. Through it, I wish to extend the boundaries of thought,
attention, understanding and giving. With that in mind, my work often deals with
subjects such as identity and boundaries, and the shattering of both.
work also deals with relationships and interactions, not just in the human
sense, but also between different elements, materials, properties and
attributes. Definitions and awareness of the bigger picture, and its constituent
small details, influence my process.
My work is characterized by delicate
yet complex drawings made with a unique mixed-media technique on paper that
combines pencils, color, graphite, embroidery, cutouts and ready-made. I also do
large installations made through long, Sisyphean processes. My choice of working
with everyday and industrial materials is also part of my artistic agenda. I
find it challenging to translate what surrounds me, what may be considered
common, into fine art. This also means that I hang hand-made “one off” art
pieces in public spaces. Being out there is a significant choice for me. It
enables me to reach a diverse audience directly and facilitate a different kind
of artistic dialogue.
Can you talk about your current solo exhibition?
The current exhibition, “Spark,” deals with the duality that is human endeavor:
the meeting of the internal world with the external reality. The tension
resulting from this encounter has a simmering impact on that which is caught in
the middle. I wanted to point out the spark, which is the starting point that
ignites creation. It is also the only completely authentic and unhindered point
in the process.
I wanted to think out loud about the primal, pre-genesis
state of infinite potential, but also to talk about the importance of allowing
it to be inspired and influenced by its surroundings.
consists of 12 completely new works: three series of drawings, and a large-scale
installation, consisting of a shell of iron net and metal hangers woven manually
with over 300,000 woolen threads.
What have been the reactions to “Spark”
The response has been quite amazing, to be honest. The opening drew
hundreds of people, and was a really fun night. The gallerist tells me that in
the mornings when she arrives at the gallery, there are people actually waiting
outside the doors, and that several visitors were touched so much by the works,
they were brought to tears. The media response has been widespread and
beautiful. Every Saturday, I open the gallery myself. The interactions with
visitors have been emotional and eye-opening.Can you talk about past
exhibitions & projects that you’ve done?
“Spark” is my fifth solo
exhibition. My fourth is still going on until the end of this year, in Beit
Ariela at the Tel Aviv Municipality Department of Art and Culture. In the past,
my works were exhibited in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Haifa Museum of Art, 2nd
Herzliya Biennial, Art Basel in Miami, Tokyo, and New York, the Tel Aviv Artists
House, “Gallery On the Cliff” in Netanya, and many more. As I said earlier, I’m
also active in the public domain, as a street artist.
My best known
street project is the ongoing “Mind the Heart!” in which I mark urban frames
with red woolen hearts framed in shoe-boxes. The idea was born from an almost
naive need to find intimacy within my city; to pull the passers-by out of their
incessant, goal-oriented daily race and into a state of contemplation and
awareness of what surrounds them.How does the Israeli art scene differ
from others around the world?
It’s funny, or perhaps sad, but although my art
has traveled the globe and been exhibited internationally, I myself have never
experienced other art scenes for any period long enough to be worthy of the term
It’s one of the top things on my agenda for this next year
actually, to expand my activities to other locations in a much deeper and wider
sense.Who is your favorite artist of all time?
Patti Smith: she’s a
musician, but she’s so much more than that. She’s a poet, a writer, a painter,
and a human that breathes and lives art. She does this (and has done so for over
40 years now) in a complete manner, staying true to herself; uncompromising,
unflinching, never fearing to go all the way and to expose herself. Although she
sees all the ugliness and evil of society, she has never lost hope in the beauty
that is the human soul.Are there any other Israeli artists who are
inspiring you now?
I could write many names, but not just one. What inspires me
is attitude coupled with actions. Israel is an amazing ground for creativity
because of its complexity and because it always leaves you hungry. You can never
be fully satisfied and content here. It drives many artists here, in all
mediums, to search for new alternative ways and perspectives through which to
I am fortunate to be surrounded by a beehive of
life-forces, buzzing around feverishly to push boundaries, and influence change
to make a mark.If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
work in the studio, and in my life in general, I strive to be in the moment,
both physically and mentally.
This dictates a wide variety of emotions
and moods through the creative process, even of a single work, and my soundtrack
varies accordingly. From beautiful silence, to warrior spirits such as Nina
Simon and Edith Piaf, to the soothing cradle that is Nat King Cole, and all the
way to Patti Smith, Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and
For more information on Gelfman and her exhibitions visit