b. 1956, Israel.
Dror studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten-The Royal Academy of Arts, Amsterdam, where he acquired a foundation of academic painting and drawing on which he continues to base the art he creates. During the early 1990s, Dror returned to Israel and opened an independent art studio for painting and drawing in Kiryat Tivon in the north. In 2012, Ben-Ami moved his studio to Tel Aviv where he currently works.
His recent works are on paper, using drawing materials, primarily various inks and charcoal. Ben-Ami treats these large-scale works as paintings, not drawings.
The inception of the creative process focuses on an examination of “the depth of the paper and shades of black,” as Lee Rimon described in her review of the exhibition, Moon on a Cypress Spear.
There is a paradox between the visibility of the heavy patches of charcoal and the universal themes in the works and between the platform on which Dror works: simple paper, so transitory and fragile.
“Dror Ben-Ami’s artworks contain material and non-material existence simultaneously. Painting is a space in which signs of life gradually appear and melt away.
Ben-Ami chooses to work with very vulnerable paper which he perforates, punctures, covers with layers of charcoal, and erases. Thus he obtains a fine line reminiscent of etching” (from Shir Meller-Yamaguchi’s catalog article for Sketches of Time).
Dror Ben-Ami’s themes are atemporal and borderless – life and death, materiality and decomposition, beauty and the void.
The painterly experience is severed from the experience of the here and now, floating between the conscious level and the unconscious.
About the technique
Over the past few years, Dror Ben-Ami has been using a unique drawing technique to work with charcoal on paper.
Ben-Ami replaces the traditional drawn line (e.g., in pencil, charcoal, ink) with physical engraving into the paper, scoring his lines with a sharp needle.
Looking deeply into the drawing reveals a dense network of criss-crossings incised or stamped into the surface of the paper. Sometimes Ben-Ami goes over these engraved areas with charcoal, which penetrates into the processed paper. This action creates dark formal structures on the paper ground. Sometimes the background is light, while at other times it is dark due to the layers of charcoal. Then Ben-Ami etches into the darkness to reveal illuminated forms emerging from the surface darkness.
This technique is actually “borrowed” from the traditional etching process in which the artist uses a sharp metal burin to mark the rigid metal plate (or linoleum surface). Printing ink is applied to the plate, penetrating into the etched lines, and the plate is then printed.
Dror drew his inspiration for this idea from the Old Masters, especially Rembrandt and Goya, who made prints as a means of expression, in addition to painting in oils.
Ben-Ami’s works on paper reflect an expressive universe of forms in a wide spectrum of textures and a rich range of monochromatic tones of blacks, whites and greys.
An additional source of inspiration for him are the “scientific” etchings of flora and fauna which developed in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, drawn carefully from observation by botanists and naturalists.
The language of these plates seems to be that of objective observation of the world, but the illustrations are sharpened by the artist’s subjective, stylized interpretation.
The tension created between the observer’s objective starting point on the one hand and the outburst of subjective aesthetics on the other, raises a question about the essence of the human outlook on the world in which we live. In other words, it questions the relations between the physical facts we receive visually and the emotional load we accommodate with regard to these worlds.
Dror Ben Ami
b. 1956, Israel.
Following art studies at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten-The Royal Academy of Arts, Amsterdam, Ben Ami earned a B.A. in Art Education, Oranim College, Kiryat Tivon, and an M.A. in Art from the University of Leeds. He currently teaches painting and drawing at the Wizo College of Design, Haifa, at the Emek Yizreel Academic College, Goren Campus, and works in his Tel Aviv studio.
Solo Exhibitions (selection)
1985 Aula Gallery-Rijksakademie, Amsterdam
1989 Catacombe Gallery, Amsterdam
1992 The New Gallery, Beit Abba Hushi, Haifa
1993 "Snake," Tova Osman Gallery, Tel Aviv
1995 "In the rose thicket," New Artists Community Gallery,
1997 "Changing situation," Kibbutz Cabri Gallery
2001 "Endless," New Artists Community Gallery, Kiryat Tivon
2003 "Between black and white," Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan. Curator: Meir Aharonson.
2004 "Moon on a cypress spear," Wizo College of Design Gallery, Haifa. Curator: Lee Rimon.
2006 "The Bather," The Jerusalem Artists House, Jerusalem. Curator: Itschak De Lange.
2007 "Black water, White water," The Edge Gallery, Nahariya. Curator:Itschak De Lange.
2009 “Webs,” Gallery of the Herzliya Artists’ Residence/Center for the Creative Arts. Curator: Varda Ginossar.
2011 “Sketches of Time” (with Ruth Norman). Wilfrid Israel Museum, Hazorea. Curator: Shir Meller-Yamaguchi. (Catalog).
2011 “Butterflies (Memento Mori),” Zadik Gallery, Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
2012 “Vanitas,” (with Daniel Zak). The Edge Gallery, Nahariya. Curator: Lee Rimon. (Catalog).
Group Exhibitions (selection)
1986 Aula Gallery-Rijksakademie, Amsterdam
1997 Beit Rami and Uri Nechushtan, Ashdot Yaacov
2001 "Boomerang," Goren Gallery, Emek Yizreel College
2004 "Impressions 2," Jerusalem Artists House,
Jerusalem. Curator: Dror Burstein. (Catalog).
2005 "Hole," The Art Workshop, Ramat Eliyahu
2007 "Boomerang 2," Goren Gallery,
Emek Yizreel College
2008 "The North," The Edge Gallery, Nahariya
2009 “Paper story,” Haifa Museum of Art.
Curator: Adi Shelach.
2009 “Warp and Woof,” Corinne Maman Ashdod Museum. (Catalog).
2014 “Two Moons on the Shore, Wind-Up Bird in Norwegian Wood: Haruki Murakami and Contemporary Art,” Contemporary by Golconda, Tel Aviv
2015 “Lines,” Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Curator: Sara Reiman