Benjamin Levy – Memory and Fantasy

“My father loved family photographs and would ask every passing street photographer to take a photograph of our family. If one of his children wasn’t around, my father would ask a neighbor’s child to join the picture and cover his face because he believed that the number of children in the photograph had to be accurate.”

So stated Benjamin Levy, whose paintings and sculptures were inspired by old family photographs. The magic of these old photographs rubbed off on Levy’s work. The picturesque figures grouped in front of the camera appeared as if they were in a theatrical scene, staring straight at the camera, and their elegant and fancy clothing became a central motif of his work. Levy combined these memories with photographs of family and friends from the Kerem Hateimanim neighborhood, which was home to families from various ethnic groups with different outward appearances and diverse customs. Thus he produced an extensive opus of artistic work that includes paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures.

The collection of Levy’s work in this exhibition reflects the human side of his creations. An extraverted and elegant male figure that exudes a whiff of the Levant is placed next to a naked female figure that is perhaps erotic or perhaps self-confident. Levy also gives expression to the relations between humans and pets through semi-surrealistic and humoristic drawings and bronze statues that suggest everything he has in his unruly head, without any limitations.

When Levy was asked about the discrepancy between the elegant man sporting a bow tie, hat and narrow but devious moustache, and the naked woman beside him dressed only in a hat or tights, he answered that his inspiration “came from” his father, who told him that when he stood under the wedding canopy with his mother, he felt her embarrassment and shyness, and though she was covered with veil, she was actually exposed. 

Levy’s inclusion of animals in his works was also inspired by memories from his home in Kerem Hateimanim, where his family and these animals lived side by side as one family. Until today, animals continue to be a part of his home in Ein Hod.

Benjamin Levy was a unique figure in the landscape of Israeli art. His naïve surrealistic style was seen as unusual. As an outsider artist he insisted on maintaining his special style: telling tales, dreaming dreams and humorously describing Oriental figures, like a magician who knows how to stir up his audience or a moonstruck dreamer who follows his fantasies and disregards the reality that is liable to stabilize and perhaps change him.

Arie Berkowitz, Exhibition Curator

Exhibitions

שעות פתיחה:

שני עד שישי 11:00-14:00

שבת 11:00-15:00

כתובת

מוזיאון ינקו–דאדא, כפר האמנים עין הוד, ד“נ חוף הכרמל 3089000

טלפון: 04-9842350  (מענה 24 שעות)
פקס : 04-9843152