Jewish Arts by Richard McBee
Images of Dov Lederberg and Yael Avi-Yonah
Messianic Jerusalem 55" x 202"
We have all experienced the times when you want
something so bad
that you cannot bear to wait for reality to catch up
This is what the Rambam alluded to as he formulated
“I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah,
though he may delay,
nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will
Therefore it is understandable when an artist attempts
envision that which should, indeed, must become the future.
impulse to make a sacred art and thereby to shape
the future into today
can be called “Visionary Art.”
By their own definition,
this is the art of Dov Lederberg and Yael
Cherub Dialogues #3 Tenderness 40" x
Dov and Yael create their artwork completely independently
each other, each producing a deeply individual vision of a spiritual
Nonetheless, this happily married couple continually inspires
each other from their upstairs and downstairs studios in their home in
They share a common love of kabbalah and determination
share a unique vision of the world with as many people
who will take
the time to look, think and feel beyond surface appearances.
spirituality they seek causes them to see the world
through a lens of
emerging potential that navigates
the razor thin edge between submerged
and a future struggling to become manifest.
Priestly Blessing 31" x 39"
Yael Avi-Yonah, daughter of the esteemed Israeli
archaeologist and art historian,
Michael Avi-Yonah, has created highly
successful Jewish art
for over twenty-five years including paintings,
prints and serigraphs
of Jerusalem landscapes and biblical
1988 she has effectively invented and developed
an unusual kind of
visual expression called Anaglyphic Art
that embodies her complex and
multiple kabbalistic visions.
Anaglyphic Art (“ana” = diminishing,
“glyphic” = form)
is simultaneously entirely new and amazingly ancient.
Her researches have found that many artists of the
including Rembrandt, have unconsciously used these esoteric
Utilizing the right brain (abba - chachmah - masculine)
left brain (imma - bina -feminine) dichotomy
she combines in each
painting elements that
will stimulate these distinct cognitive
The right brain tends to see the general picture
while the left brain concentrates on details
the balance of light and darkness.
Yael strives to put both kinds
of artistic vision
in each of these Anaglyphic works and asks the
to use special red and blue lenses
to optically combine and
then selectively divide the two visions.
The effect of seeing one
area of a painting leap to life
while suppressing another is startling
and in Yael’s complex layering of images
a hidden narrative is
Alternatively viewing the painting
through the red lens
and then the blue lens shifts the content of
while looking at the painting through both eyes and lenses
creates a “hologram” effect.
World of Angels
through Red Lens
Yael is striving for the experience of revelation.
and heads appear and disappear
while auras of light seem to materialize
out of nowhere
as one optically shifts from red to blue and back again
makes the aesthetic experience challenging and interactive.
not convinced, however, that it actually becomes revelatory.
me that supernal vision she seeks is more closely approached
moving paintings she has done depicting the future Jerusalem.
The series of New City or Messianic Jerusalem
two innovative visions of the Holy City.
One enormous painting
“Messianic Jerusalem” (55" x 202")
shown above is suffused with light
and spiritual auras
that create a virtual reality in which materiality
seems to disappear before our very eyes
as if two thousand years of
yearning finally materialized
every Jew’s deepest desire for holiness
This may be one of her most successful paintings
creating a very real structure (which is what
the Messianic Jerusalem
will do, i.e. restructure reality)
using the pure light of spirituality
to reconfigure the material world.
Future City #2 30" x 40"
Another set of paintings conceives of the New
as an entity structured entirely of crystals
dramatic lights and darks,
eerily glowing in a kind of heavenly Las Vegas
vivid reds, purples and blues
compete for attention with flashes
of white light.
The crystal city of Jerusalem becomes more
fantastic with each painting.
Future City #9 30" x 40"
The climax of these visions is “Future City #9” as the
of the dead bursts upon the scene in an apparition of
floating against a crimson mist evoking a vision of Ezekiel of
the world to come.
This vision is less of a liberation from death
than a warning
that the future may not be entirely comforting.
feels the current desperate situation in Israel,
Jerusalem concerning the never-ending violence
and conflict is
impetus for creating these visions of the future today.
Dov Lederberg approaches his future vision
veiled perspective of contemporary art.
His subjects are
alternatively hidden in vivid psychedelic visions
or overt symbolism
embedded in Op Art.
A recent series of paintings called “Dialogues”
with the visual paradigm of the cherubs
that rested atop the Ark
of the Covenant.
The Midrash elaborates that they faced one another
with a change of the mental state of the Jewish people
change their position,
even turning away from one another in anger and
Building on this premise Lederberg manipulates
shaped abstractions that face one another
and morph from painting to
painting in changes of color, intensity and shape.
forms represent such diverse emotions
Sympathy , Transcendence , Envy , Affection
, and Gluttony.
It is here that the distinction between Yael and Dov becomes
as Dov’s conceptual bias is constantly manifest
while she remains linked to a more
almost always referring to a concrete reality.
Dov comes to his artwork after
an extensive background in experimental
including a stint with Israeli television
and educational films.
In the 1960’s he learned in various
yeshivas and since the 1980’s
he has been deeply involved in kabbalah and
which has dominated
his painting for the last decade or so.
A passionate investigation into
the essence of things has fueled Dov’s work.
My Dove in the
Crevice of the Rock
The Women's Gallery
His series on the intricate texture of the
Western Wall looks deep
into the tiny crevices and fractures in the
surface of the
ancient stone finding echoes of symbols and meanings.
The Twelve Tribes 55" x 61"
Similarly he has sought
a way to fuse the names of the twelve tribes
that appear on the Khoshen
Hamishpat (the Breastplate of the High Priest)
with images that evoke
The resulting set of twelve paintings becomes a giant
on the power of the letters and the names
that causes the viewer to
the myriad relationships possible between the tribes
The Haichal (Temple Sanctuary) - Non Local Reality 30" x
The artist explains that since the destruction of the Second Temple
primary aesthetic experience of the Jewish people has been oral,
the verbal nature of learning the Talmud
and transmitting that
knowledge from generation to generation.
Almost two thousand
years ago this represented
a loss of the visual experience that is
reasserting itself now
as we rapidly approach the Age of the Messiah,
becoming more and more pronounced as
many artists delve into kabbalah,
uncovering and hoping
to reveal esoteric and mystical realities.
He sees the increased awareness of kabbalah
and especially the study of
as leading to an expanded consciousness
allowing both artists
to perceive that which was hidden before.
It is the
future of heightened consciousness
that Dov Lederberg has claimed as
Kapporot Erev Yom Kippur 30" x 40"
His more recent work has concentrated on Kabbalah Mandalas
that are frequently circular in composition (the classic mandala
and are particularly well suited to being used as objects of
“ Inner Space01 ,” "Inner Space02 ,” “Wheels
of Light ,” “Kabbalah Kisses ”
“Kaporot Erev Yom Kippur” (shown above)
all present a form of optical
also utilizing Yael’s Anaglyphic methodology,
back to 60’s Op Art
harnessed in the quest for spiritual
Abraham's Vision - the Holocaust 40" x 50"
“Holocaust Causality – Abraham’s Vision” is
a harrowing meditation
on Abraham’s Covenant Between the Parts
presenting an aerial view of the white hot fire
that consumed the split
carcasses of the sacrificial animals.
This image in its turn
begins to appear as the flaming torso of a man
driving home the
sacrificial nature of the millions of martyrs consumed in the
For the normally pacific and calm Lederberg this image
s almost unbearably violent and moving.
Other recent “ Pieces Now – Israeli Bus Bombing ” and “Jewish Stars out of Auschwitz ”
similarly concerned with the violence of our
times that cries out for explanation.
for explanation competes with the desire for solution
of the complex
problems of the Jewish people.
We yearn for a unity of our
we yearn for peace, we yearn for justice.
Simply put, we yearn
Dov Lederberg and Yael Avi-Yonah present their
of a new world yearning to be born.
Richard McBee is a painter of Torah subject matter
and writer on Jewish Art.
Please feel free to contact him with
Many of the
paintings may be available as prints and giclees, please inquire:
You or anyone you know who may be visiting Northern
are invited to our studio/gallery at Alkabetz
11 (near Kossov synagogue)
The Old City,Tzfat (Safed) Israel.
Telephones in Israel:
USA telephone: 1-720-477-6433
Canada telephone: 1-438-792-0806
POB 25, Tzfat (Safed) Israel 1310002