Ben Dov’s exhibition focuses on the image and the iconography of a shepherd. The works study the visual and experiential values of the search after the nature of A leader – a paradoxical character by its vary nature – humble and associated with the Earth, on the one hand, while existing in the realm of God, above the common people, and holding vast power, on the other hand.
In the representation of the shepherd, Ben Dov finds: “an elusive character, due to the very search for it. Just by seeing a leader, one cannot tell where he is heading. He is the one who leads the way, taking care and caressing his people, but, at the same time, he is the one who will select the sacrifice. The search for the leader is a primeval search, a search existing in the human dimension, and imbedded in our existence. People look for the great shepherd, 'the Lord is my shepherd’, and at the same time look for a tangible and a physical one, whose conducts are reasonable and comprehensible.
In his minimalist, trans-disciplinary manner, Ben Dov successfully deals with the image of the shepherd and his modest tools: the rod, the planets, and the moon, which the shepherd uses when navigating his way in the dark. Since the dawn of history, the conception of stars as groups and geometrical patterns, like the constellations, was helpful for navigation and orientation on earth. In Ben Dov’s works, the constellations shine in their full glory, marking the shepherd’s way. On a deeper level, one can see the stars as a divine consciousness, guiding man.
In Ben Dov’s works, the moon is always depicted as a full moon (as in the installation: Moon, Bucket or Untitled); the full moon enables the shepherd to see his way clearly. In the moonlight, he becomes part of primordial nature. In bygone ages the moon was considered to be feminine in character, having a dark, intuitive and irrational facet. The alternately waxing and waning moon represented cyclic changes in the woman’s physiology, and the cyclic seasonal changes of nature itself (the installation: Moon).
A person contemplating at Ben Dov’s works will have difficulties guessing where the shepherd is heading; the direction of movement always remains mysterious, and even the rod which should be directing him is misleading. Human civilization sees the rod as a symbol for the rule of men, and it is sometimes described as having magical powers. Ben Dov’s rod is not presented as a powerful phallic symbol, but rather as a bent, unimpressive and instable object (in his works Rod, Shuva V'nachat). The rod, as depicted by Ben Dov, is a neglected, lonely and forgotten object, one which is waiting for the arrival of the leader to control it. Ben Dov’s characters which do hold a rod (Shepherd, Untitled) are the antithesis of the ruler’s icon, as we know in classical art. Leadership as presented by Ben Dov is vague, amorphous and lacking any glamour or radiance.