Highlights from Athens: Edi Hila

Documenta14, EMST—National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

  • In a series of articles we present our findings and impressions of the exhibition Documenta14 in Athens. Today we discuss the most vivid drawings by Edi Hila.

    So Edi Hila. Maybe my favorite artist in Documenta.

    Yeah. We thought he was a woman for a long time, until we googled and found out.

    That was a little bit disappointing to be honest. Anyways, he was a recurring figure in the show, we saw him both at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Conservatoire.

    Yes. His bigger paintings were not as good, but his smaller watercolor drawings were so, so vivid.

    In his texts he talked about growing up in a dictatorship, so his drawings and paintings were probably very private to him.

    Probably. It also made me think how small scale work must be easier to produce during crisis, than say, carrying around a big easel.

    Good thinking. His texts described small pockets of peace and the chance to enjoy a little bit of sunshine.

    And these characters seems full of excitement, their expressions verges on caricature, almost desperation. As if feeling forced to enjoy this mini moment of relief.

    He’s capturing a break. Just like one break from real tough life. And I felt like that was what the drawings did for me too. We were surrounded by works of suffering. Next to us, a Holocaust survivor had a sculpted head of cigaret butts. Then came this beautiful drawing.

    Yeah. I also like his style of writing. His dry tone, very matter of fact. He manages to capture hope and desperation without being pompous or self-aggrandizing. And he is not explaining anything, but describing what he was responding to.

    Yes, responding rather than explaining. Because although some of his texts were very political, I don’t think he is, you know, preaching.