Born in a village in Morocco in 1944, Israel Dahan immigrated to Israel as a teenager and studied the art of the goldsmith at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. After graduating, he opened his own studio in Jerusalem, where he has crafted delicate works of contemporary Judaica for the past 50 years. Dahan, who grew up in a religiously observant home, creates his objects in keeping with Halacha (Jewish religious law)—but his pieces are far from conventional. While the Halacha goes into great detail in regard to the way objects should be used in rituals, it does not stipulate the material or form of the required objects. Dahan is thus free to provide new interpretations for traditional objects, maintaining a delicate balance between his drive to create and innovate while ensuring that his pieces fulfill their traditional role in ritual. His pieces manifest the ceremonious act in which they play a part, as special attention is given to the way they are held, used, and laid to rest: actions crystallized in tangible form.
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In addition to creating his own pieces, Dahan has taught at the Bezalel Academy since 1973, mentoring a generation of young Israeli goldsmiths. As a teacher, he has embraced the multi-faceted Israeli identity, making room for expressions of secular and non-Jewish ritual works alongside Judaica. While Dahan’s own works are inspired by the Jewish tradition and culture in which he was raised and by his deep research into Judaic rituals, Muslim, Christian and Druze students studying under Dahan have produced a diverse spectrum of ritual vessels in the spirit of their own heritage.
“Like in all areas of design, the work of the goldsmith has room for personal expression, social statements and aesthetics. I believe my trade is the perfect fusion of art and craft: its essence is the fact that the work must fulfill its role as a useful, functioning object—it cannot remain an unrealized idea.”
2019 Israel Dahan: Fifty Years of Jewish Art, Jerusalem Biennale of Contemporary Jewish Art, Heichal Shlomo (The Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art), Jerusalem, Israel. Curator: Dr. Shirat-Miriam Shamir (Solo Exhibition).
2016 A Matter of Time / Israeli Jewelry 7, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. Curated by Dr. Iris Fishof.
2015 Bezalel: In and Out, Jerusalem Biennale of Contemporary Jewish Art, Jerusalem, Israel.
Curators: Dr. Shirat-Miriam Shamir and Ido Noy.
2015 New Acquisitions, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
2007 Heaven and Earth / Israeli Jewelry 4, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. Curated by Prof. Yarom Vardimon.
2003 Light and Mass, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
2002 Chain Reaction / Israeli Jewelry 2, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel.
1996 Hanukkah Menorahs, Museum of Italian Art, Jerusalem, Israel.
1995 Solo Exhibition, Gallery Dan, Zurich Switzerland.
1991 Charity Boxes, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.
1989 The Art of Giving, Christie’s London, UK.
1989 Contemporary Fine Judaica, Star Gallery, Boston, USA.
1989 Judaica Here and Now, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.
1984 International Jewelry, American Craft Museum, New York, NY, USA.