Dan Almagor Always with a Smile

There are people whom you share your work with for many years, which seem to never be able to surprise you with something you didn’t already know and suddenly, often too late, you discover a part of their personality, their work, that they have never mentioned all these years. Possibly because of such humbleness Bialik wrote his praised poem “Humble People of the World”; a humbleness always hiding behind a soft voice and a captivating smile.

This was Dov.

I knew Dov - the set design master, just from the beginning of my career.
For years he designed sets for many shows, performances, assemblies and television programs that I’ve edited and directed; in most of them the set was created by the old team of “Irgunit”; – Adam, “Shemen” and Yehuda. More than once, when we arrived for the first time to a location where we were asked to prepare a big assembly or a multi-participants jubilee or show, I asked myself how could it be possible to build a set-design for such a big site, but I trusted Dov. I saw him standing quietly, examining the wide topographic area and after few minutes it seemed like a spark lit in his eyes: “Got it”! and he drafted rapidly his first sketch, that later on became a colorful set-design which left, more than once, the spectators (as well as us the participants) amazed. It was not a bombastic, aggressive or trying to impress set. Even in his biggest sets you could find kind of respect or humor that makes you smile. All of this was done by means that looked, and probably were, easy to construct. Occasionally you could notice the usage of simple and known materials that suddenly acquired a new character. Everything was merged together gracefully on the big stage where hundreds of actors performed.
Dov kept his distinctive humbleness as well as his typical way of speaking for television programs, cabaret shows and theater performances. In spite of being one of the first to use the new technology of computerized design, he was careful not to dazzle and impress with unnecessary abundance of special effects and fireworks.

Even in the popular children’s song festivals that tend to be garish and vulgar, he felt a commitment to balance the atmosphere and educate the young spectators, to a different flavor in his own humble way.

The computerized and complex set design he created for the Eurovision song contest, which took place at the “Binyanei Hauma” in 1979 was for sure the highlight of his work for the television. It was the first international song contest hosted by Israel after the song “Abanibi” won the European contest a year ago. Israel, the host – with, its ten years old television (and less then this in color technology) was facing a very special and nationally important challenge. There were many concerns that because of inexperience and lack of funds, the Jerusalem’s stage would look poor &provincial comparing the spectacular, state of the art sets in previous “Eurovision” shows. Eventually the set surprised and exited the Israeli audiences who felt proud. The European producers of the “Eurovision” were exited and impressed as well. Israel's status was upgraded at once. The next day, the newspapers praised the television producers, the directors, the singers and the songwriters. Only one name was missing somehow and didn’t get the attention it deserved – Dov’s name. Maybe because he never looked for titles, public relations or the press. I remember asking him, pretending not knowing: “who designed the set?” as always, he just smiled quietly.

When he told me, a year before he passed away, that he is about to publish an album of his works, I was sure it would be an album which will includes selection of photos of all the sets he did for shows, performances & television programs. I’m so sorry that only now, after he died, I discovered, so late, his other side which was unknown to me - Dov the artist. The exciting paintings he painted over the years, that some of them were displayed in exhibitions unfortunately I’ve never been at (again, this humbleness: he wasn’t one of those artists used to send all their friends massages and invitations to the opening of their new exhibition). And how sorry I am that just from Uri Dromi’s article that was published in “Ha'aretz” after he died and from Gideon Ofrat’s instructive introduction to the book, suddenly, I’ve learned amazing and touching facts about Dov. His youth, his studies in Paris and in Israel, and about the plurality of his styles as an artist that didn’t get the right recognition he was deserved to. He never mentioned even with a hint, this “other side” that I missed in his life, but at least it is possible to look at it now after he left us.

And so, in spite of the sad farewell, this beautiful album allows us to meet, again and again, the artist-painter Dov who was hiding, (willingly or by circumstances) behind his humble smile and soft speaking and to appreciate and love him much more.