Jewish Press

Jewish Arts by  Richard McBee

Sacred Images of Dov Lederberg and Yael Avi-Yonah


Messianic Jerusalem
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 with desire.
This is what the Rambam alluded to as he formulated
“I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah,
and even though he may delay,
nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come.” 
Therefore it is understandable when an artist attempts
to envision that which should, indeed, must become the future. 
This 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 Avi-Yonah.

 Cherub Dialogues #3 Tenderness  40" x 30"

Dov and Yael create their artwork completely independently
of each other, each producing a deeply individual vision of a spiritual reality.
Nonetheless, this happily married couple continually inspires
each other from their upstairs and downstairs studios in their home in Jerusalem.
They share a common love of kabbalah and determination
to share a unique vision of the world with as many people
who will take the time to look, think and feel beyond surface appearances.
The deep spirituality they seek causes them to see the world
through a lens of emerging potential that navigates
the razor thin edge between submerged reality
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 scenes. 
Since 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 past,
including Rembrandt, have unconsciously used these esoteric techniques.
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 areas. 
The right brain tends to see
the general picture
while the left brain concentrates on details
and the balance of light and darkness. 
Yael strives to put both kinds of artistic vision
in each of these Anaglyphic works and asks the viewers
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 frequently revealed. 
Alternatively viewing the painting through the red lens
and then the blue lens shifts the content of the image
while looking at the painting through both eyes and lenses
creates a “hologram” effect.

     World of Angels

  angel angel b&w
                 Original Work                                                       Seen through Red Lens                                  Seen through Blue Lens  

Yael is striving for the experience of revelation. 
Seeing figures 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. 
I am not convinced, however, that it actually becomes revelatory. 
For me that supernal vision she seeks is more closely approached
in the moving paintings she has done depicting the future Jerusalem.

(More on Anaglypic Art)

The series of New City or Messianic Jerusalem
presents 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 and peace. 
This may be one of her most successful paintings
by 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 Jerusalem
as an entity structured entirely of crystals
suffused in dramatic lights and darks,
eerily glowing in a kind of heavenly Las Vegas
as 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 resurrection
of the dead bursts upon the scene in an apparition of skulls
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.
Yael feels the current desperate situation in Israel,
especially in Jerusalem concerning the never-ending violence
and conflict is precisely the impetus for creating these visions of the future today.


Dov Lederberg approaches his future vision
from the 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” starts
with the visual paradigm of the cherubs
that rested atop the Ark of the Covenant.
The Midrash elaborates that they faced one another
but with a change of the mental state of the Jewish people
they would change their position,
even turning away from one another in anger and discord.
Building on this premise Lederberg manipulates
two kidney shaped abstractions that face one another
and morph from painting to painting in changes of color, intensity and shape.
These wing-like forms represent such diverse emotions
as Sympathy , Transcendence , Envy , Affection , and Gluttony.

(More examples & information on the Dialogues)

It is here that the distinction between Yael and Dov becomes clear
as Dov’s conceptual bias
is constantly manifest
while she remains linked to a more traditional view,
almost always referring to a concrete reality.

Dov comes to his artwork after
an extensive background in experimental film,
including a stint with Israeli television
making documentaries 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 meditation
which has dominated his painting for the last decade or so.
A passionate investigation into the essence of things has fueled Dov’s work. 

Dove Woman's Gallery
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.

12 Tribes
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 each tribe. 
The resulting set of twelve paintings becomes a giant meditation
on the power of the letters and the names
that causes the viewer to assemble and disassemble
the myriad relationships possible between the tribes and their attributes. 

Non-local Reality
The Haichal (Temple Sanctuary) - Non Local Reality 30" x 40"

The artist explains that since the destruction of the Second Temple
the primary aesthetic experience of the Jewish people has been oral,
citing 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 the Zohar
as leading to an expanded consciousness
allowing both artists and viewers
to perceive that which was hidden before. 
It is the future of heightened consciousness
that Dov Lederberg has claimed as his subject.

Kaporot Erev Yom Kippur
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 form)
and are particularly well suited to being used as objects of meditation. 
Inner Space01 ,”  "Inner Space02 ,” “Wheels of Light ,” “Kabbalah Kisses
and “Kaporot Erev Yom Kippur” (shown above)
all present a form of optical stimulation,
also utilizing Yael’s Anaglyphic methodology,
that harken back to 60’s Op Art
harnessed in the quest for spiritual elevation. 

Akada Holocaust
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 Holocaust.
For the normally pacific and calm Lederberg this image i
s almost unbearably violent and moving. 
Other recent “ Pieces Now – Israeli Bus Bombing ”  and “Jewish Stars out of Auschwitz
 are similarly concerned with the violence of our times that cries out for explanation.  

The desire for explanation competes with the desire for solution
of the complex problems of the Jewish people. 
We yearn for a unity of our people, we yearn for peace, we yearn for justice. 
Simply put, we yearn for Moshiach daily. 
Dov Lederberg and Yael Avi-Yonah present their mystical visions
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 comments at .

Many of the paintings may be available as prints and giclees, please inquire:

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are invited to our studio/gallery at Alkabetz 11 (near Kossov synagogue)
  The Old City,Tzfat (Safed) Israel.

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