Integrating Kabbalah Study With Art
Many years before Kabbalah developed the popularly that it enjoys today, David Friedman was feeling its draw. He had already begun experimenting with different forms of art in his teenage years, notably mandalas, a form of spiritual art common in the East. " I liked the idea of art that can be used in contemplation to bring people into a sacred space" David explains. When a rabbi from his hometown of Denver introduced him to the study of Kabbalah in 1977, he started thinking about how to combine the study of Jewish mysticism with his art.
Arriving in Tzfat in 1980, David continued to experiment. However, it was only after recovering from cancer, when he began to practice Jewish Meditation based on the Sefer Yetzirah, a basic Kabbalistic work, that he began to develop a system of creating Kabbalistic art. It is this model that he continues to work with today.
Living in Tzfat plays a large role in David's work. "I find that it is easy here to study Kabbalah" David says. "The fact that some of the greatest Kabbalists that ever lived (like the Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria, and the Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero) taught here and are buried here infuses the air here with spirituality and makes their teachings somehow more accessible." David studies on a regular basis with other students of Kabbalah in Tzfat. This schedule allows him to explore different dimensions and aspects of Kabbalah which he is then able to bring into his artwork.
Ideas and Inspiration
David's works are based largely on ideas from the Kabbalah which are associated with the Hebrew letters, as well as some of the symbols that are found in the Kabbalistic literature. Jewish tradition places great importance on the Hebrew letters, which are believed to have special powers in themselves, and David's drawings and paintings bring this to visualization.
David derives great enjoyment and inspiration through his talks with visitors who visit his gallery. In addition to his paintings and lecturing, David is known throughout Tzfat for his music - he plays mandolin and violin. He has collaborated in the past with a local ceramicist, and is always interested in finding other artistic venues to explore as he continues to develop his unique vision.