Lilly Hill paints only one kind of subject, large naked women based mostly on detailed studies of her own body. Her style is reminiscent of Renaissance art with its smooth surfaces, subtle colours and careful compositions, but her subject matter is the very contemporary relationship between physicality and sexuality, honesty and acceptance, power and presence.

From an early age, Lilli Hill was aware of her ability to see the world through a different lens. She grew up in Abay in central Kazakhstan, where encouraged by her father, an ambitious amateur photographer and draughtsman, she started painting at the age of thirteen, with private painting lessons with local artist Konstantin Otapka. In 1993 she moved with her family from Kazakhstan to Germany, where from 2003 she studied graphics, art history, philosophy and painting at the University of Wuppertal, graduating in 2007.

She divides her time between Berlin and Thalwil, near Zürich in Switzerland. Her work is regularly exhibited in galleries throughout Germany and Switzerland.

In conjunction with a recent exhibition in Switzerland, the website Zürichsee Connections conducted an interview with Lilly Hill, which you can read in full on her website here. We have included just a few of her responses.

Tell us why you decided to become an artist.

There is no simple answer. I was always interested in art and possessed the ability to express it in a way I hadn’t seen before. As a child, curiosity drove me to libraries where I would look for pictures, illustration and art books. I had an urge for creating, paired with wonder and questioning about everything around me. My intention then was not to make a living off of art, nor to be an artist. Back in 1993 when my family moved from Kazakhstan to Germany, my interests grew while studying art, philosophy and history in Wuppertal. Today that passion remains, and now my primary intention is to be an artist.

What kind of artist do you consider yourself?

I am an emotional artist. My relationships have strongly and partially influenced my work. Besides art, my vegetable garden and meeting people are important to me. I love opera houses, classical concerts and jazz. My painting technique requires a lot of time to elaborate, therefore I only paint a few paintings a year. Every single painting is very intense in the making.

What is your artistic process for creating work?
The beginning of a creative process is a triggering experience. Thoughts and emotions are leading factors. It takes a strong input to get just one idea and a picture design developed. A few days or weeks later, the idea matures internally. I like to attend exhibitions or go for a walk to live in my own world of ideas. Once I know what I want, it progresses very quickly. Photos and drawings are made, the canvas size determined, and so it is painted. Every beginning is emotionally charged. I identify myself strongly through my work. As the process of painting calms down so does my mind and I focus on completion. A big moment is always the sale – that’s the biggest compliment for an artist. When one experiences the appreciation of one’s work in this way it strengthens creativity enormously.

Lilly Hill’s website can be found here.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.


Example illustration