Artwork’s Title: “Is ma parrti en a crai if a wontoo”
Material Used: Spray, acrylic and permanent marker on canvas
Studio Based: Jaffa, Israel
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
When approaching the canvas, it is always in layers. I come to it with the initial idea of the figure(s) I want to create. I have a general composition in mind and I start with drawing it with a pencil. After completing the first layers of the work, I feel that that’s where the expressive abstraction part of the process kicks in. I let my mind go loose and once I’m done with that part, I go back to another layer of refining the craziness of the previous layer.
My work has started from a very flat, naive approach. So if I felt like I’m seeing black, I painted black. I felt like I was being silenced, so I drew a fish, who is mute. I felt like I want my nightmares to end, so I painted bombs falling on me while I’m sleeping. It evolved into works that had a lot of violence in them, along with blatant, sometimes vulgar text. I created these works because I wanted them to “pinch” me, and also the viewer.
Today, after going through several creative phases, I approach my work in a way that mixes my cynical way of thinking and my fascination with constructing fusions of new techniques. My work nowadays is a lot more open for interpretation then it used to be. I intend to create images that would still have that strong pinch, touching me and the viewers right in the feels, but in a more vague kind of way. I try to create the same feeling I got when I looked at an image of a stabbed figure for example, but without painting a stabbed figure, even though sometimes I still like painting stabbed figures lol.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Good, bad, new.
Could you share with us some insights on your ‘Is ma parrti en a crai if a wontoo” (2022) painting? Is there any particular story behind this new work?
This work is just a weird mix of feelings. The horse, which appears in all my late works, is like the empty canvas itself. Through how it is painted, and according to the situation I put it in, comes the whole point of the painting.
I painted the horse in a birthday party, with some spooky memorial candles behind and before it. I feel like a birthday party is somewhat of a bizarre situation in which you are forced to be happy, and with it, these candles make the whole thing unclear and emotionally disorientating, as they are candles that are not implying any sort of celebration. From here, the viewer can take it to wherever they want.
Spray painting techniques seem to dominate the artistry of your recent body of your work; Is this your current creative style of work or would it be something more significant and meaningful that you wish to further excel in the future?
Spray painting is definitely a strong trait of my identity. As I mentioned, I come from a background of graffiti and street art, and it is of high importance for me to keep parts of my past with me and combine them in what I do today. I believe that my past creates the person I am today and I never forget where I come from, even if looking back at what I did makes me cringe, because it does. Quite frankly, I look back 5-6 years ago and I hate the things I paint to an unimaginable extent. But then again, if I wouldn’t have done all that ugly crap, I wouldn’t be creating the work I do today.
Visually, there is a strong repetition of horses on your canvases; where does this fascination with this animal come from?
I’ve always loved horses. To me, its the most touching animal in the world. When I look at a horse I get flushed with so many different feelings. It can be the most uplifting or the saddest thing I’ve seen. It can make me feel free and the next minute it can make me feel captivated. So, I feel like I subconsciously went there to paint horses because I am looking for something that is open for interpretation, and still pinches my soul. To me, that thing happened to be horses.
Another reason is my Fiancé’s grandfather, Alberto. He’s a very unique persona, born in Morocco, used to run hotels and casinos hie whole life. A real free spirit who takes a joke on anyone and anything. The guy loves drawing horses. He only draws horses and nothing else. Just sketches them anywhere. I think I fell in love with how his free spirit connects with my cliche image of wild Arabian horses running free. Wow, so poetic of me.
After about a year I found myself obsessed with painting horses too.
In your bio it is highlighted that ‘One can say that Kanfi’s work is a not-so-gentle critique of the politics of contemporary identity that he stretches while dealing with relevant cases in today’s world. Kanfi acts against bourgeoisie conceptions, indifferent to academic formalism and strives to break the rules with uncompromising sincerity’; Can you elaborate on this please, do you feel more politically involved as an young artist when you create a new work?
As a relatively young auto didactic, the last years of my life have been filled with experimenting with my paintings. I have been painting non stop since 2014, coming from an urge to let out hardships which were stuck inside my soul, as I am a veteran soldier suffering from PTSD after fighting in a war I don’t believe in. I feel like my “political” side comes from this, as my creation does. And even though right now through my recent body of works it can’t be seen, I know it’s always there and it surprises me every time.
One might notice through my work, that I have a past of street art and graffiti, and I still create large scale works in public from time to time, and it’s almost always political.
One of the last ones I did was about a year ago. There was yet another war in Gaza, and bombs were falling all over over the centre of Israel. I had an urge to go to the street and paint a huge target on the road, saying “drop bomb here”. A lot of different emotions helped put this piece together and even more emotions came from me and the public after it was there.
Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you usually come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning of your artistic process?
My works used to be 100% experiments in a way that I wouldn’t know what I’m about to paint. Nowadays, I always have the idea or narrative before approaching the canvas. The experimenting takes place in the different techniques I try to blend, and in the application of the paint itself. I feel like that is what creates the spark in many paintings along history.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
I feel like I’m a place in life in which I’m humbled when a gallery decides to exhibit my works. Hopefully in a few years, I will have the justification to start fantasising on my dream way of exhibiting my works, but until, I’m staying humble and just continuing to paint and evolve.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Like many, I first loved Basquiat many years ago. I also take big inspiration from the way Francis Bacon thought and spoke of his works.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
I work in a small and super messy studio in a very old building in Jaffa. There are tools, brushes, fabrics, spray cans etc. everywhere. I have one wall that I always work on, and that’s pretty much it.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I have a show in mid January at Ainori Gallery in Lisbon along with 2 other artists which I’m very excited about, as it will be my first show in Europe! Will be showing 4-5 new works there.
I also recently signed with a gallery called Ting Ting Art Space in Taipei, Taiwan. They will be showing my works at various art fairs in Asia and sometime in the future I will also have my debut solo there. Besides that, I’m always painting and proceeding to evolve in my artistic journey which I enjoy very much.
All images courtesy of the artist