Prof. (Emeritus) Ben-Ami Scharfstein Introduction

Dov Ben David is an artist whose material is space. Therefore, when I ask him what he has done with his life, he answers, “Design,” and when I persist and ask, design what? he answers, “Space.”

Space where? I ask.

A portrait of Dov Ben David by the polish painter Mark Rodnitzky, 1958

“Wherever it’s needed,” he answers.

I ask, Indoors or outdoors?”

He answers, “Both, in between, and neither.”

Explain, I say.

“When I designed whatever I did for sporting events – the Maccabbia and Hapoel games – the spaces I designed belonged to the great outdoors. When I designed scenery for plays and movies, the space represented was everywhere, but the space in which it was watched was indoors. When I designed for movies or television, the space filmed was also both outdoors and indoors, but the filmed result was neither out nor in, but the illusion of space.

In 1979, when I designed the concept of the Eurovision that took place in Jerusalem, it was broadcast over the whole world - as spatial illusion in as many basic variations as there were contesting songs. Finally, when I made my photopaintings, the space was illusion from start to finish.

Explain, I said.

“I took some glittering, light-reflecting surfaces, some gelatin light-filters, some black paper, and some spherical, cubical, and prismatic shapes made of plexiglass. Then, with my imagination and my camera I constructed a deeply three-dimensional world, along with a new-old one of temples more immaculate than possible and multicolored columnar cities. I made striped three-dimensional space. And for persons ready to close their eyes a little, I made great, stripe-defined, endlessly deep three-dimensional space that might have been the space of Genesis at the start of creation.

For my art, space is the all-giving material, my art’s indeterminate mother, out of which my designing arm, its motions modulated by imagination, cuts, breaks, joins, and molds the art you see here".