January 17 – March 6, 2020
Hilu Through the Eyes of a Collector
This exhibition is about two men: artist Nathan Hilu and collector, Robert Weisman. Weisman’s eclectic taste runs from the formalism of Israeli artist, Menashe Kadishman, to the Outsider art of the late Nathan Hilu, and from fine art to craft and kitsch.
From a 2011 Tablet Magazine interview with the artist. “Nathan Hilu, may be the most significant Jewish Outsider artist you’ve never heard of. He is a denizen of New York’s Lower East Side and has vividly depicted the neighborhood’s shuls, markets, and rituals. His other works are based on memories of guarding Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials, biblical and midrashic stories and Eastern European folklore. For the most part Hilu has operated beneath the art-world radar, drawing at an almost frenzied pace with any available materials, usually Sharpie markers on office paper or oak tag. Yet his rough-hewn creations—embedded with text, disregarding normal rules of perspective, usually collaged, patched with clear tape, and covered on both sides—are powerful artworks that are also monuments to the Jewish experience. Though not obviously religious, Hilu sees piety in the everyman and spirituality in the everyday. He heeds the advice of his early mentor Abel Warshawsky, the American Impressionist, that “an artist must have veltshmerz,” or an ability to feel the pain of the world.”
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