Magical Reality - Innerscapes


What is it that we actually see when we attempt to fix the external world in our perceptions? Is it actually there as recorded by our memory or is it more a compendium of our own impressions, predilections and biases to which the image simply adds another element? The above quote indicates the latter - that reality is not a fixed entity but rather a constantly shifting screen dictated by our own perceptions. In the final analysis, what we retain is a collaboration between what is inside as what we see. The word ?innerscapes? in the title of the exhibition would appear to confirm the aim of making the internal world of artist and viewer alike visible and externalised through the work.

Zadok Ben-David installations are a cosmic interiors utilising space, proportion and the figure. There is a joyous playful aspect to the work - full of seemingly impossible contrasts. The central image is the human figure which may be from a few inches to eight metres in height (notable public commissions). They may be trapped in the cavities of large works, levitate on electrical cords or drapery, fly through the air or march off into space for no apparent reason - unheeding of the depths below. These juxtapositions may recall a surrealist bent but Ben-David?s quarry is to access our unconscious by different means - through illusion and magic. The artist walked into a magic store opposite the British museum twenty-five years ago and has retained a passionate interest in the subject which informs his work. Magic tricks depend for their success on leading the audience in a certain direction, diverting their attention at crucial moments and surprising them with the result. Ben-David?s sculpture installations make use of this time honoured entertainment strategy and transforms it into art. He is not trying to shock us into seeing something with fresh eyes but rather use our own desires and capacity for fantasy to tap into something already familiar, scramble it with his vision and allow the viewer to interactively pick up the appropriate pieces and construct their own reality.

In the remarkable sculpture of Zadok Ben-David, the artist is aware that viewers have countless possible responses and the way to communicate something meaningful is to construct a solid platform from which viewer responses may be explored. There is no ?right? way to look at Ben-David?s work, he does not narrow down significant moments in front of his work by saddling it with specific parameters or artistic dogma. The work has no particular political or historical agenda and the oeuvre is mature enough that while he is well aware of current visual culture he is no longer influenced by momentary perceptions in the art world. In the words of Frank Stella; ?what you see is what you get?.

The use of magic and illusion does not mask the serious ideas in the work. The ubiquitous use of the figure suggest to some a humanist lens by which man is at the centre of all things. A tree or a six metre figure in a public installation are made up entirely of intertwined figures on closer inspection. However, there is also an existential element at play here. As in the paintings of Joan Miro, the figures may share a space or a sculptural plane but they are largely unaware of each other and as surprised as we are delighted to find themselves in the sometimes acutely odd circumstances of a Ben-David sculpture. In ?Evolution and Theory? - the acclaimed installation shown at Annandale Galleries in 1997, we find the evolution from ape to man as a solitary, perhaps lonely walk through time. Humans are seen as an integral part of nature but often tragically unaware of their inherent connectedness to the cosmos. Gaugin?s ?Where do we come from, Where are we, Where are we going? comes to mind. We all ponder these questions at one time or another without being able to achieve much in the way of rational conclusions, but it is the act of searching which keeps us alive to the world around us. The existential blinkers necessarily imposed on us by the plethora of unanswerable questions are relieved by the artist?s world, which raises to the status of reality; accident, dream, enigma, illusion and yes - magic. For life is an unfathomable miracle for Ben-David. He is not here to answer for, make excuses, rationalise or explain life, but rather to celebrate it through the positive vision he shares with us as art. Finally, I would like to thank Zadok Ben-David for his support and enthusiasm for this project and his visit and ongoing interest in Australia. - Bill Gregory Sydney April 2004

ZADOK BEN-DAVID, one of the UK & Israel?s best known artists, was born in Yemen in 1949 and immigrated to Israel in the same year. He arrived in England in 1974 and divides his time between England and Tel-Aviv. He has had over forty solo exhibitions since 1980 including representing Israel at the 1988 Venice Biennale. His acclaimed sculpture installation ?Evolution & Theory? was shown at Annandale Galleries in 1997 and went on to be shown to sometimes record crowds in museums in Israel, Singapore, USA, Germany and the Netherlands. His work is in public, corporate and private collections in Europe, Israel, USA and Australia. His first show exhibition at Annandale Galleries was held in 1991.


Magical Reality - Innerscapes
sculpture & wall pieces
special video installation, running 31 May - 5 June & 29 June - 17 July ONLY
31 May - 17 July 2004

Exhibition features:

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Please note, works in previous exhibitions may no longer be available, please visit our stockroom for available works