Sculpture Pulled Out of Thin Air

YOU could say Zadok Ben-David's sculpture is about illusions. The word ``magic'' springs easily to mind when people talk about it. Like a magician, (and he is actually an amateur magician) he likes to produce a sense of wonder by apparently performing the impossible. You could say his sculpture is about balance - and imbalance. His ``Pot on the Rope'' is like a circus act in a dream: A serrated horse dances forward; a weightless, spiky man tiptoes along its back and onto its tail. The man holds a rope which falls to the ground, while on the rope's other end is poised a terra cotta pot. We know that it's not this drawn-in-air man who is being ``taken for a ride'' - it's us, the viewers.

The sculptor is playing games - delightful ones - with us. We allow it because we enjoy it. We go along with that silhouette being ``a horse'' (when we can see that it's an odd sculptural hybrid, not fully three-dimensional, a cement surface plastered over a hidden armature). We go along with that ``man'' having weight and form (when we know he's merely a welded metal, two-dimensional outline). We believe that the ``pot'' is heavy clay, while if it were it couldn't possibly be supported by the ``rope'' (which we know can't be floppy hemp). We are happy to fall in with the illusionism. Perhaps it is because of its humor.

You could say, looking at the ``Magnetic Field'' sculptures of this artist (who was born in the Middle East but lives in Britain), that his sculpture is no more substantial than a drawing. Someone who knew that drawings were only conventional signs once insisted there are no lines in nature ... but what about magnetic lines of force? And those lines, silhouetted against the white light, in Ben-David's rendering, exist only in flat two dimensions - yet, by their character, they seem to describe rounded, billowing fully three-dimensional forms. An illusion.

Zadok Ben-David's sculpture - you could say - seems to be conjured out of thin air.

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