Dov Lederberg has been ahead of his time by roughly 30 years or so, as far as Chassidic artists go. Dov, together with his late wife Yael, has explored Judaism and Chassidus through the lens of abstract, digital (and sometimes 3D) work. Dov lives in Jerusalem, and I recently conducted an interview with him.
Q. Please introduce yourself.
A. I am an emerging artist in the context of creating works or gestalts whose various meanings “emerge” to my audience (and to myself) with repeated viewings.
I am a chassidic artist, first of all, via genetics, being a direct scion of the Maggid of Mezeritz, for whom I am named, and of course via my studies and contacts with the Rebbe and other great teachers.
Q. How long have you looked at yourself as an artist?
A. During my teenage and early college years, I was involved with English Lit and creative writing. This is going back 55 years. My turn to the visual arts came with my exposure to lyric “underground” film-making, and I became deeply involved in the Sixties art scene in the Lower East Side in New York City. Since my aliyah to Israel in 1967, I have worked as a documentary film director for Israel TV and other venues, and also created many video art compositions. My switch to paintin started about 20 years ago with my marriage to the world-class artist, Yael Avi-Yonah, OBM.
Q. What is the relationship between your Judaism and your art?
A. My brand of Judaism (call it Chassidus) is a strong catalyst for innovation and renewal and certainly influences and inspires my art, even though the finished canvas may not seem overtly Jewish or what most people call Jewish Art. For example, some of my best ideas have come to me when I am immersing in the waters of the mikve.
Q. What message do you like to convey to viewers through your art?
A. I like to create art that invites interaction and discovery and leads to expanded consciousness and even intimations of a mystical experience. To enhance this I like to use 3-D Avatar glasses or allow the painting to be turned upside down, revealing new perspectives.
Q. How do you integrate art into your life?
A. There is Jewish Art and there is the Art of Being a Jew. I try to juggle both artistically.
Q. Share a recent project.
A. My last major project was a series of montaged photography, called Catharsis, dealing with the bereavement period after the passing of my dear wife, Yael Avi-Yonah, OBM. Click to view.
Q. Who or what are your influences/inspirations?
A. Judaic, artistic, and other. My major life-changing influence was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I also was fortunate to find and connect with, in Israel, great Torah teachers such Harav Adin Steinzalz and Harav Yitzchok Ginsburgh.
Q. Please recommend another admired artist.
Q. What is your advice for emerging artists?
A. Be true to your inner vision and not cater to what you think others may like or find acceptable. Before beginning a painting be like Nachson before the Red Sea and plunge into the waters up to your neck and with G-d’s grace, the Sea and the See will open before you. Be alert to serendipity and realize that all is Hasgacha or Divine Providence.
Q. Please summarize yourself in one sentence.
A. I am one of the pioneers in what I call the Third Temple Messianic art movement, the return of prophecy and envisioning to Israel.
Q. In your definition; What is Jewish Art ?
A. Jewish Art should be faithful to its root in Hebrew – אמן – which shares a nexus of meaning to אמונה – faith and אמת – truth and נאמן – faithful.
More of Dov’s work can be seen on his Website.