From mud and litter into piece of art
to his Yemenite origin and his passionate travelling the artworks of Daniel
Levi (1959 Saba Village Israel) are characterized by a highly exotic flavour.
His unbridled phantasy supported by his innate sense of architecture enables
him to invent extremely imaginative and poetic forms in a style that is
original and unique.
elements consisting of materials manufactured in moulds define Levi’s
compositions. The eye is struck by shiny glazes contrasting with dim engobe.
kind of architecture that prevails in Daniel Levi’s works
it’s origin in his past.
ancestors of Daniel Levi constructed in Yemen buildings in an extremely
complicated, fairytale- like and highly artistic style that could be named:
‘architecture without an architect’
heritage is clearly perceptible in his works, although it developed from purely
Yemenite - into a completely eclectic style that derives its inspiration mainly
from his travel – impressions. The works are enriched by several materials that
Levi brings home to his studio varying from stones from riverbanks, pieces of
wood and branches out of nature, debris and plastic objects picked in slums in
Yangon (Rangoon) and Phnom Penh and pieces of iron collected in New York. All
those finds become recycled and / or press-moulded into the highly imaginative
works of the artist.
his later works photo’s taken by the artist during extensive travels are
transferred and attached to the surface of his ceramics, whereby dream and
reality seamlessly melt together.
easily accessible work, eloquently conveying it’s poetry, leads the beholder to
surprise and contemplation.
works are presented in several public and private collections: Inax Museum,
Tokoname; Museum of Islamic Art, Istanbul; KPMG, Amsterdam; ABN AMRO,
Amsterdam; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague; Dutch Embassy, Sana’a;
Levi also participates in school projects to help young children explore their
creativity. Although he considers the tutoring of children being an important
part of his professional life he derives his main inspiration from his
travelling to unknown parts of the world.
Inspiration, themes and influences
travelling and architecture became Levi’s main sources of inspiration after his
graduation at the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam, it is very interesting to see
what the elements are about that struck his eyes in those remote countries
where he travelled and how his discoveries materialized into works.
in Israel and spending his youth and early adolescence there and travelling
being obviously not yet an option, Levi’s works in those days revealed another
fascination: the nearby desert with it’s dim colours.
settled in The Netherlands, separated from his home-country and his Yemenite
ancestors, Levi experienced that Yemen – this country formed the ever returning
theme and subject in the family conversations- strongly influenced his dreams,
thoughts and artistic concepts, although he never had a chance nor the
permission to visit this country of which he from childhood on had developed
such a strong imagination.
new Dutch citizenship granted him with that permission, and so he was enabled
with a passage to his future as an artist, but also with a passage to his past:
it was only in 1996 that Daniel Levi finally could visit Yemen and so he
influence of this journey on his work was enormous. Architecture without architects
became the prevalent theme in his works that were inspired by the numerous
tower-houses in Sana’a and elsewhere in the country, that were build without an
architectonic plan but with an incredibly refined taste perfectly embedded in
the surrounding landscape and garnished with stunningly beautiful details
testifying highest levels of craftsmanship and artistry. This theme
architecture without architects never vanished completely in his works. Also
works inspired by travels elsewhere show traces from the impressions he was
exposed to in Yemen. Levi would say: ‘wherever you go, you – like it or not –
bring your own history’.
works Levi created in Curaçao show his fascination for construction in a
different way. In this case it is the submarine world, permanently under
construction and destruction by nature. Here, the coral-riffs and shipwrecks
are the subject of this production.
stay in Myanmar resulted in a series of works named ‘Burmese days’
works show another aspect of Levi’s talent: they reveal simultaneously the
serene beauty of the country and it’s people and the painfully contrasting
reality of a military state.
latest series called ‘Angkor Gardens’ is almost completed. The works show how
nature slowly but unmistakably takes over where buildings are neglected and
ruins arise in their new perverted beauty.