Zadok Ben–David was born in Bayhan, Yemen, in 1949, and was brought up in Israel. He studied at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem 1971–73; Reading University, 1975 and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, in 1976. Zadok Ben–David currently lives and works in London.
Ben-David has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally; most significantly he was selected to represent Israel at the Venice Biennale in 1988. A selection of solo exhibitions include: The Other Side of Midnight, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2013); Zadok Ben-David at Singapore Botanic Gardens, presented by Sotheby’s, Singapore; Simple Line, Mysteski Arsenal, Kiev, Ukraine; Blackfield, Artclub 1563, Seoul, Korea (2011); Blackfield, Verso Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; 1918 Art Space, Shanghai, China; Blackfield, Galerie Albrecht, Berlin, Germany (2010); Blackfield, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, USA; Human nature, Tel Aviv Museum, Israel (2009); Blackfield, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, Australia (2008); Invincible Reality, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China (2007).
Ben-David was brought up in Israel after his family emigrated from Yemen, he then moved to the UK to study and live. Much of his work is testament to his exposure to the cultural symbols and aesthetics of the two varying societies. Alongside inspiration from the stories and ancient art of Israel, he has used Victorian botanical encyclopaedias to craft thousands of miniscule steel cut plants and flowers in a powerful statement about the fragility of life.
When Ben-David moved to London to study, he was faced with a new visual language, as British abstraction and conceptual art of the 1970's were very different from contemporary visual art in Israel. The evolution of mankind and its symbiosis with nature is often explored throughout Ben-David’s work. Ben-David's work often references his Yemeni heritage and its oral traditions, symbolism, illusions and cave paintings. In addition, his work also pays attention to and is inspired by alternative influences such as scientific documentation, hand coloured stipple engravings, botanical illustrations from the 18th and 19th century to the cave paintings and oral traditions of his native Yemini culture. He often uses thin sheets of steel – either hand-painted or left bare to weather organically. These are precisely cut by laser or hand into large-scale forms. The results are beautifully intricate shapes that appear like shadows or stencils on the landscape that challenge the viewer to reconsider their ways of looking.