July 22, 2024
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Israeli Artist Dudu Gerstein Returns to Painting

If you haven’t heard of Israeli artist David (Dudu) Gerstein, you would probably recognize his work. Gerstein is one of the most well-known artists in Israel today. His signature colorful sculptures are in many galleries and his larger urban sculptures can be viewed throughout Israel and all over the world.

Recently, I was honored to have the opportunity to meet Gerstein at his studio in Israel. As soon as I entered, colors were everywhere and I was not sure where to look first! I was overwhelmed by the creativity and joy that his artwork conveyed.

Dudu was born and raised in Israel, only 4 when the modern state of Israel was established. As a young boy his teachers discovered Dudu’s natural artistic talent. He said “I was born to be an artist. I had no other option.”

After his army service, Gerstein attended Betzalel, the prestigious art school in Jerusalem. He continued his training in New York, London and Paris before returning to Israel to launch his artistic career. Initially, Dudu focused on painting. He painted scenes based on his surroundings—his family, Jerusalem and the landscape of Israel. His technique and talent led to his success.

At the age of 35, Dudu told me that he “decided to move away from figurative art, and go deeper within to create something new.” He began to cut his paintings to create sculptural pieces that can be viewed from any angle. He experimented with other materials such as bronze and wood, but felt that the work was too “sober.” Once he began to add pure colors, using industrial paints, his work began to feel more playful and whimsical. He knew this was the direction he wanted to take. Because moving to sculptures, a very different medium, was quite risky, fellow artists suggested that he return to painting on canvas. Dudu disagreed and continued to create artwork that he was passionate about. It took years before people began to fully appreciate his work.

In 1995, Dudu discovered that he could design metal sculptures using laser-cut pieces of metal to form his creations. He began to make limited editions of multi-layered wall sculptures. These pieces became very popular and highly collectible. His works were exhibited in many cities around the globe and art lovers were drawn to his unique artistic style.

Soon cities outside of Israel wanted to have a “Gerstein” sculpture as part of their urban landscapes. He has installed huge colorful sculptures that can be appreciated by millions of people. His piece “Momentum” is Singapore’s largest sculpture. Dudu loves that his artwork can be shared with the general public in this way. “I love to be part of their world. You can see it 24 hours a day. It is part of the landscape of the city.”

Gerstein’s childhood memories often motivated him to create certain pieces. When Dudu was in New York as a young student, he was amazed at the number of people in the city and the crowds of unique individuals dashing through the avenues in different directions. The streets of Tel Aviv are now crowded with people in the same way, reminding him of that NYC scene. Tel Aviv has grown into a wonderfully diverse community inspiring him. “I started with Fifth Avenue, from my memories of the mass of people—so many people. Israel is like that now. We have so many people, so many characters.” His Urban Life pieces are named after streets in different cities. They are made up of characters moving about their day. Gerstein explained that “Each person is their own individual self. Together they send a message and share the story of their city. You can see this diversity all over the world.”

Recently, Dudu returned to painting, in addition to working on his sculptures. He began to paint images of cars, with a focus on the images that reflect off of them. “Cars are everywhere. The surface is reflective like a mirror. We don’t pay attention to them, but it is reflective of the environment. It is something to get people thinking. It is an artist’s job to get people to see things that they didn’t realize were there, to enjoy the world in a different way.”

Jennie Mohl is an art consultant specializing in Israeli and Judaica artwork. For more information about David Gerstein’s work, and the work of other Israeli artists, please contact Jennie: 917-573-7074 or [email protected] Instagram: @jenniemohl.art.

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