I am a figurative painter interested in memory, defiance, and gendered social power dynamics. I work to challenge the patriarchal history of painting. I do this by sourcing my femme figures from strangers’ personal photos, mining our collective, intimate histories for heroines and surrogate selves. Through intentional use of gaze, color, and materials, I queer and shapeshift my subjects into abstract environments. I layer gestural marks, oil pastel, collaged fabrics and paper, and atmospheric color fields to contrast areas of dimensionality and flatness. My otherworldly figures all stare directly at the viewer within these saturated dreamscapes. Rendered solid in concise oil brushwork, they coevolve with and merge into their limitless spaces.
I situate my work in an ongoing conversation about intimacy, power, and survival in a femme body. My paintings contain visual references which include German expressionism, pornography, and tacky sweaters. I use the fluidity of painting to blur lines between reality and fiction, care and harm, self and other. Glimpses of drawn plants, furniture, patterns, clouds, smoke, and cacti lend context and become a visual language articulating hidden hurts, desires, and aspirations. “Unfinished” paintings are always more interesting to me, so I choose to leave some areas open and less worked. This gives my work a raw and haunted quality. How does one remain whole when their bodily autonomy is taken from them? When I paint I am asking unflinching questions about consent, grief, and resistance.
I begin all my paintings with digital collages, and often use physical collage directly onto my canvases. I combine collage and painting to evoke past and present, examining how both become collectively fictionalized through memory and cultural stories. In past work, I have explored these themes using found textiles as a substrate, from picnic tablecloths to old patterned bedsheets. Since 2018, I have been developing a body of paintings on velvet titled “Keepers.” Painting on velvet allows me to play out material tensions of hardness vs softness, opacity and transparency. The history of velvet painting also opens conversations about class, kitsch, and commodity, all of which I relate back to the body. The untouched negative spaces of velvet function simultaneously as tactile flat surface and receding color fields implying deep, internal space.
Within the lush maximalism of my compositions there are moments of confident restraint: a sense of being unfinished, in-process, in flux, becoming, undoing old patterns and ways of thinking. My work is heavily influenced by the genre of magical realism, and its potential for imaginative, open-ended narratives. In each painting I am looking for new ways to order relationships between bodies (and gazes) in space.
Hilary Greenstein once cried while watching an Olive Garden commercial. She is also a fine artist and educator based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2013.
You may have seen her paintings around Minnesota at Gamut Gallery, Rochester Center for the Arts, Rosalux Gallery, and Hopkins Center for the Arts. She paints in studio 206A of the California Building in Northeast Minneapolis, and opens her studio to the public for Art-a-Whirl. In her spare time, she works tirelessly to keep her cat, Charlemagne out of trouble. She is a Scorpio, but please don’t let that scare you.
I take commissions, please inquire!
FOllow me on instagram: @hilarygreensteinart
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Hilary Greenstein takes commissions.
You Know How People Are
Up In The Air
Everywhere You Go
Start Naming Names
A Pointed Question
Stay a Little Longer
Where You Stand
Who’s There Now
Wish You Were Here
The Last Time
The Last Time 2
The Last Time 3
The Last Time 5
The Last Time 6
Tell Me When I’m Wrong
Take My Time
Now I Know
Should I Be Worried About You?
Tropical Depression 2
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