By Ellen Frazer-Jameson
International crystal artist, Kfir Moyal, spreads glitter and sparkle everywhere he goes.
A force of nature on his electric skateboard, complete with flashing coloured lights, he zooms around Miami Beach’s world-famous shopping mall, Lincoln Road, between his gallery, workshop, office and studio.
Tel Aviv born Kfir, paints cultural icons. Glamour reflected in a thousand Swarovski crystals, is his show-stopping signature look. Larger-than-life portraits of Marilyn, Liz, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Elvis, Muhammed Ali and a roll call of legendary idols, flash in the window and on the walls of his gallery, lit by two gigantic grand chandeliers.
Opening scenes, of The Kardashians new television series (Hulu), show a screaming, door-slamming row between family members. Kfir’s giant crystal encrusted paintings light up the walls of their home. Years of experimentation led to the development of a world-famous artistic phenomena. The dazzling portraits are achieved by painting an original image onto canvas, screen printing the artwork and embellishing with thousands of hand placed Swarovski crystals. Kfir’s works of art are fashioned in limited editions of 25 pieces but personal commissions, which cost many thousands of dollars, are one-off.
Despite his international fame, and status as an artistic icon, Kfir remains down to earth and humble. Self-taught, he never had an art lesson, he embraced his passion for creativity and art from a young age. His father, a wealthy meat factory owner, hoped his only son – Kfir has four sisters – would one day head up the family business, but he did not prevent Kfir from pursuing his dream and leaving Israel to move to America.
“My childhood was filed with happiness and kindness,” says Kfir.
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He describes his rise to fame. “I've been painting since I was a teenager but I never thought I'd make a living out of my art. I took a Business Management course in college and it has been invaluable in running and developing my business. Early on I began working with the crystals that are my signature. When I was 15 I started to develop my creative ideas using soda crystals - not real crystals. I couldn’t afford the dazzling crystals I work with today.”
In a tour of his workshop, Kfir explains only part of his secret technique and carries out the process he calls ‘bedazzling’ of all his painting personally.
“The final stage when I add the crystals is like having the approval of God, he breathes life into the portraits. The ‘bedazzling’ moment brings the subject to life,” says Kfir. “Creating is like something out of a movie. That moment when you're in a party and they throw all the gold or the silver stuff from the ceiling. The moment of celebration.”
The God-inspired works of art are on sale in high end galleries in London, Mykonos, Dubai, Tel Aviv, New York, LA and many other countries.
“The sparkling cultural icons express my dreams and achievements. God is good because my expectations were only half of what I have achieved today. I grow and experiment constantly and that makes what I do powerful and meaningful. I'm inspired by everything good and bad, laugher and tears and I aim to capture all these life moments on canvas.
I have been privileged to work on commissions for Paris Hilton, Gloria Estefan, FLOrida, L’il Kim, Iggy Azalea, and a new client, the boxer, Floyd Joy Mayweather. He came in to the studio carrying a bag with thousands of dollars.
He asked me to paint him surrounded by gold dollar bills. We are planning a grand reveal at his Star Island home. Lisa Hochstein, one of the Real Housewives of Miami is a personal friend. I was invited on the last show of the series where she and her husband hold their famous Halloween Party. Many of my friends show up and we hang out together here at the gallery. It reminds me of Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York where there were artists and creativity all around. My life is truly blessed. I meet such wonderful people and have to remind myself to be in the moment and enjoy life. You have to celebrate. I believe God gives each one of us certain gifts. For years I struggled to make my mark with my art and my message to other artists is, “Never give up. Believe in yourself”.
Kfir works with many charities including Phil Collins’s Little Dreams foundation and Best Buddies International. At a recent charity action, Kfir donated a piece of his art and helped raise a quarter of a million dollars. “I want to do the best that I can and give back for all I’ve received.”
Kfir had a life changing experience two years ago, a spiritual insight, and he believes it put his life into perspective.
“I became close to God,” he says. “My art is flashy and shiny and I am attracted to the diamonds and crystals but underneath the sparkling images, there is a dark side. The hard work of creating;16-hour days; constant deadlines, can take away the enjoyment of the moment. I sacrifice parts of my life.
I have no real life outside of the premises where I work. I never walk down Lincoln Road. I hardly eat or sleep and never go home to the house I built in Miami Design District. I use the skateboard to go between the three aspects of my work because I am constantly in motion. My first Miami studio, was in Wynwood, many years before it became the centre of urban art and mural culture in Miami. I love Miami.”
Kfir is known all over the world for his personalised, crystallised black American Express card and celebrities and collectors have bought it in all sizes, some as big as a wall.
Every minute it seems there is a magic moment in the life of Kfir.
“I pray and thank God but still care about the same things I always did. My family, my art, my business. I need only God to tell me I'm amazing.”
“I have no ambitions or idea of what I want to do in the future. The next thing is always surprising. In a moment, life can change. Celebrate the moment.”
Web Page: www.ellenfrazerjameson.com
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