ÁMPL MAGAZINE_artist_Yael Ben-Simon

Yael Ben-Simon (b. 1985, Israel) is an Israeli artist that works and lives in Brooklyn NY.

Yael Ben-Simon (b. 1985, Israel) is a contemporary artist whose practice explores the relationship between propaganda, identity, magic and symbol making through painting.  Together with historical research, Yael’s process in the studio is one of constant flow between manual and mechanical production, using 3D physics engine modeling software and a stencil maker. Yael lives and works in NYC, USA.

Panther hunter, 2021, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 40 x 28 inches
Son of Niobe, 2021, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Hello Yeal, first of all, congratulations on your solo show with Natasha Arselan Gallery. Can
you tell us about yourself?

I’m an israeli painter living and working in Brooklyn NY.

How did you end up leaving your country and end up staying in Brooklyn NY?
It started with my move to Chicago to complete my MFA studies at the School of the Art
Institute. Later I moved to NYC.

When I first faced your work, I wondered what the relationship of each object in the paintings
were. There seems to be a certain energy in the relationship of the object in your works, what
do objects specifically mean among the recurring motifs in your works?

They sometimes have a very obvious relationship to one another, like for example in a
previous painting called “Head of Dionysus” where the sculptural fragment is attached to a
rope that is in turn attached to a stick and so on. In other words, they sometimes have a
dynamic that infers action or some sort of symbiotic relationship. I like using such narrative
instruments because it makes them more fun and playful.

What is the main concept in your work and How could you define your art? How do you
begin your painting process?

My work evokes themes that relate to history and tradition while also employing a playful
and humorous attitude to the very same subjects. I tend to view my works as mental
collages, drawing heavily from art history but also from storytelling, old books and prints,
childhood games and so on. I always think of what makes traditions go on existing the way
they do and what part, if any, is left for individuality in that process.

Yael Ben-Simon, Samson, 2021, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 40 x 28 inches
Yael Ben-Simon, Milford lane, 2021, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

How and where do you come up with ideas? Can you elaborate about your creative

I wish I could say I have a method for sourcing ideas! Sometimes they spring to mind just
like that, other times they evolve from not-so-good ideas. What I can share is that I do tend
to look at old archives of prints or at old paintings to keep me on my toes creatively. It’s
always good to surround yourself with good art, be it good books, movies, or visual art.I
often start by sketching or outlining an idea I have, later I would try and realize this idea
using a 3d program called blender. There, things take some twists and turns until I am
satisfied with an image I can work with. When I have that, I realize the painting using paint
and printmaking.

Could you share with us some insights on your recent paintings, for instance ‘Son of Niobe’ and ‘See Saw’’? Is there any particular story or meaning behind these new artworks?

The “Son of Niobe” is based on a sculpture that has the same name. It is part of the myth of the
mortal niobe and her children that tells a classical tragic tale of hubris and punishment. She is
punished for bragging about her fertility compared to the goddess by having her many children
massacred by the very same gods. I’ve been using some of these sculptures in my work since
they are such powerful works that tell a horrific story. As with many works, I try to negate the
monumentality of the work by placing it in a domestic environment, playing hide and seek. “See
Saw” contains two sculptural elements that used to adorn an office building in London.

Yael Ben-Simon, Niobe with her youngest daughter, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches

Is there any particular material or technique that you consider important in painting? Could
you let us know why do you prefer acrylic and oil on canvas?

Mixing paint is the one of the most crucial parts in painting, and oftentimes really taxing! I’m an
eternal student in that regard, always trying to improve upon my technique. Oil and acrylic are
such different animals! Oil is like the stuffy aunt who is heavy and wears fur and pearls, but she
can recite old poems or tell you saucy tales from the past. Acrylic is more like your hip friend,
always first to know of cool parties or where to have brunch. He is always on his toes, never
looks back. Silly cliches but nevertheless still helpful to understand the difference. Right now, I
do prefer acrylic because it’s fast and brilliant. However, as with the hot headed friend from the
clumsy metaphor above, it hasn’t got the capacity to forgive. Which is to say it can be a true
bummer. I’m working towards an optimal combination of both, I think they do complete each

Can you talk through the general processes involved when you are in the studio and
creating work?

I stretch canvases, mix paint, do some masking tape action, screenprint, remove from
frame, paint with brushes, stretch canvas again, airbrush, clean brushes, look at the
paintings. Go home.

Is there something that you hope the viewer takes away from your paintings? and What
are your plans for 2022?

I would like people to look at them when in front of them. Just looking and observing them. I
think the curiosity of the viewer is the most important thing for me at this stage.


AMPLMAGAZINE – 1/10/2021