Reuven Berman Kadim was born on 14 December 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Studied art in Philadelphia and later in Los Angeles, where he graduated from high school as an art major. 1949 Studied anthropology and architectural design, Los Angeles City College, appeared in professional theatre, became active in Zionist youth movement, apprenticeship in landscape gardening. 1950 Settled in Israel. Gardener in Kibbutz Urim until 1953.
Residence in Jerusalem until Spring 1957. Intensive reading and writing (mostly poetry), attended lectures at Hebrew University (archaeology and history). Resumed painting and drawing after break of four years. 1954-1956 Studied at Bezalel Academy, (no art department at the time). Spent seven months in Mexico in 1957. Accepted by Diego Rivera as apprentice in painting and repair of frescoes. Plan aborted due to serious illness of Rivera. Important meeting with artist Rufino Tomayo whose work reflected deep connection with ancient Mexican art. Painted and held first solo show in Mexico City. 1958-1970 Lived in Tel Aviv and Holon. Worked as editor, illustrator and exhibition designer. 1965 Five-month stay in U.S.A. where he came into fertile contact with American art. Since 1970 lives and works in Rehovot.
1963-1972 Art critic for The Jerusalem Post; 1966-1973 Art critic for Yedioth Aharonoth. Among curatorial projects: 1969 large Israeli representation at Biennale for Young Artists, Paris, 1984 Sao Paulo Biennale; The Rational Factor, Haifa Museum of Modern Art, 1986 Album of prints by teacher-artists, marking 80th anniversary of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. 1966-1969 and 1979-1982, member of Plastic Arts Section, Public Council for Art and Culture, Israel Ministry of Education and Culture.
Teaching 1977 - 1994: Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Haifa; Senior Lecturer Art Department, Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem; Sadna Workshop for Architecture and Design, Tel Aviv.
1958 First abstract and non-objective paintings; 1966 First artist in Israel to abandon rectangular formats as an unquestioned convention; first geometric hard-edge paintings. 1971 began to develop color structures based on rational ordering principles. 1983 initiated a Bezalel course entitled The Near East as the Source for Art Now that underwent variations over a four year period when his own concepts underwent significant changes. During 1980s and 1990s travel mainly in Mediterranean countries. 1985 Began integration of identifiable cross-cultural and cross-temporal images with concrete harmonic order. 1990 produced his first free-standing work. 1991 Developed three-dimensional ideas during five-month stay in the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. These new works were directly related to the concepts of tel, reliquary, ark, temple, Islamic patterns and fractal theory. Added the Hebrew prefix Kadim to his name. Since 1995, computer-imaging has been his exclusive medium. Latest works realized as laser and ink-jet prints. 1999 First large-scale work (five meters).
In 2004 the artist opened a big scale exhibtion in Tel- Aviv Museum of Art - "Patterns/ An East-West Symbolisis". Recently after he began working on his personal site and an Artist book. His book, "Reuven Berman Kadim- Geometric Art - The Hidden Order of Nature" was published in 2010 by Yediot Aharonot publishers and with the support of Mifaal Hapais.
In 2011 Berman Kadim recieved a lifetime achievement award from The Israeli Ministry of Culture.
Reuven Berman-Kadim passed away in November 2014.
His wife, Shoshana Berman, is a District Court Judge (ret). They have Two daughters and four grandchildren. Dana Berman-Einav is a book publisher, Noa Berman-Herzberg is a screenwriter and a screenwriting mentor, Both are married to former students of Berman-Kadim - Yaron Einav and Yoel Herzberg.
A link to the artist’s, (2008), presenting his art works and designed by him.
Haifa Museum of Modern Art. - ״Artist room״ dedicated to the works of the artist, curator: Limor Alpern
Zommer Galery of Art, "The Hidden Order of Nature"
The Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, “Patterns / An East-West Symbiosis“. Curator: Marc Scheps.
The Senate Gallery, Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, Beersheva, “Here, From the Tigris to the Pillars of Hercules“. Curator: Haim Maor.
Aheret Gallery, Tel-Aviv, “From Reuven Berman to Reuven Kadim“.
Beit Michal, Rehovot. Curator: Ada Na‘amani.
The Gallery, Fine Arts Dept., Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem
Artifact Gallery, Tel-Aviv
Artifact Gallery, Tel-Aviv
Mabat Gallery, Tel-Aviv
Mabat Gallery, Tel-Aviv
Galerie Denise René, Paris
Eva Cohon Gallery, Highland Park, Ill., U.S.A.
Tel-Aviv Museum of art, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion. Paintings from 1966 to 1976. Curator: Nehama Guralnik
Delson-Richter Gallery, Old Jaffa
Mabat Gallery, Tel-Aviv
Rina (Bertha Urdang) Gallery, Jerusalem
220 Gallery, Tel-Aviv
"Patterns" group exhibition at "A Place for Art" Tel Aviv, curator: Dalia Danon
Tel Aviv Musem of Art. The Museum presents itself, Israeli art from the Museums' collection
Castro Fasion and the Tel Aviv Museum present T-ART
Haifa Museum of Art, From Andy Warholl until these days: Culture, Color, Body. Curator: Svetlana Reingould
Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Winner of life time Achievment Award, exhibition of the winning artists
My Fathers Friends, Vertigo Ecologic art Village, Netiv Halamed He, Homage exhibit in memory of Shlomo Koren. curator: Nimrod Koren
Painting Workshop 2009, Municipal Galleries, Ramla & Ofakim.
Embroideries “Rikamot“, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Curator: Prof. Haim Maor and students.
30 Years Anniversity, Kabri Gallery of Israeli Art, Kibbutz Kabri.
Bezalel 2007, Public Auction, Sotheby‘s Tel-Aviv.
Art-Worlds in Dialogue - From Gauguin to the Global Present, Ludwig Museum, Cologne. Chief curator: Marc Scheps.
The ‘70s in Israeli Art, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art. Curator: Mordechai Omer.
To The East - Orientalism in the Arts of Israel, Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Curator: Yigael Zalmona.
Ultima, Herzliya Art Museum, Herzliya
University of Haifa Art Gallery.
Place and Mainstream - 44 from Israel, Contemporary Israeli Sculpture, Hara Museum Arc, Gunma Prefecture, Japan; Korea. Curator: Reviva Regev.
Perspective - New Aesthetic Concepts of Art in the Eighties in Israel, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion. Curator: Dalia Manor.
Israeli Art Now, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art
40 from Israel - Contemporary Sculpture and Drawing, Brooklyn Museum, N.Y .and other museums in Miami Beach, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Trieste, Rome, Torino, Warsaw, Berlin and Leipzig. Curator: Reviva Regev.
Strukturen und Texturen, Gruppe “Konkret“, Museum der Stadt Bendorf, Germany.
Milestones in Israeli Art, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
The 'Hot' and the 'Cool' in Israeli Art, Haifa Museum of Modern Art.
Trends in Geometric Abstract Art, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art.
The Rational Factor, Haifa Museum of Modern Art.
The First Triennial Exhibition of Israeli Graphics, Haifa Museum of Modern Art.
Contemporary Israeli Prints, South American tour, opened in Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile.
Trends in Israeli Art 1970-80, International Art Fair, Basel. Curator: Micha Levin.
Abstract Graphics from Israel, seven museums tour, Holland
Artists‘ Choice, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art
Israeli Art Festival, National Arts Centre, Ottawa; Albert White Gallery, Toronto. 1971 Multi-Ism, Haifa Museum of Modern Art
Six Abstract Painters, Israel Ministry of Education and Culture. Curator: Mira Friedman.
“Kadim is an exceptional artist in our midst…… his body of work realizes modernist artistic perceptions and utopian beliefs about order and progress that went bankrupt and disappeared from our current, post-modern, dystopian world…………. Kadim, a unique, profound, sophisticated, uncompromising artist unswayed by fleeting fashions of the moment“.
“…an artist without borders - a universal character with a compulsive interest in the architectural structures and geometric patterns of the region…..“
“ Kadim in his constant self-imposed challenge to increase the profundity of his art, has become one of Israel‘s pre-eminent painters and an artist of the highest integrity“
“... it would be difficult to find other artists who have adopted a visual language that attempts to signify a sense of balance and respect for both Israeli and Arab cultures."
"... a leading Israeli hard-edge minimalist painter“
“... Berman‘s attitude to the East – which is non-folkloristic…..…– is of personal significance to him, as someone who lives here and connects, through his art, with eternal masterpieces."
“Dealing with what he labels “metaphysical geometry“, Berman consistently weds an intellectual approach to a sensitive hand and eye…“
“Berman has packaged an entire artistic concept related to the continuity and interaction of culture and history in our region……….“
"...Israel‘s doyen of constructivist art, and probably its only true, practicing advocate…"
"...the undisputed leader in Israel [of hard-edge] and possibly the country‘s outstanding colorist.“
“Like a composer, Berman orchestrates variations on a simple theme, restricting its design to the sphere of chamber music, un-bombastic, sophisticated and elegantly woven.
... produced an individually distinctive body of work….so good, it places him among Israel‘s most important painters…“ Reuven Berman‘s bold and beautiful paintings have been born of the creative process, “a process“ as Kazimir Malevich asserted, “that begins beyond the realm of knowledge“
... One of the most intellectual of all Israeli painters….“
... a skilled and inventive composer and more than well-trained at his craft… [a] combination of analytical thought and aesthetics
Few artists have used so extensively the concepts of symmetry, the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence as has Reuven Berman Kadim. His grasp of the beauty inherent in spatial geometrical forms can be compared only to that of some of the greatest geometers. He even managed to incorporate into some of his magnificent works depictions of intricate physical systems, such as quasi-crystals - surprising structures that were first discovered in 1984. Berman Kadim‘s work provides a wonderful example of the delicate interplay between “beauty“ in mathematics and aesthetics.
A selection based on various writings by Kadim dating from 1984 that first appeared in the catalogue of his exhibition at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 2003; later in the catalogue to his show at Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, 2004.
In nature, order exists in the large scales. It is present too in our lives, but there it is statistical, that is, it functions in life without a precise execution in every instance and within a rather large margin of error. It is actually within that margin of error that life transpires. The upshot is that in real time, our lives are committed to a state of perpetual chance, a state that thwarts any forecast that is more than a generalization, so broad that it is in fact useless. A gift for swift unrelenting improvisation and a proclivity for sheer luck are therefore prime qualities for survival.
This fundamental human condition is the background against which I try to place a clear image of order and stability. My paintings spring from a need for equilibrium and I assign to them the task of functioning as a kind of gyroscope, using symbolic order as a counterweight to the turmoil and confusion of reality on our human scale; objects that are metaphors of greater, more complex orders. The paintings are ‘non-objective‘, i.e. they contain no images deriving from corporeal reality visible to the unaided eye, precisely because they are meant to be the antithesis to that reality. The synthesis, of course, is the complementary co-existence of the ‘ground‘ and the ‘figure‘ as a dynamically linked entity.
Nature prefers certain proportions in its structures and processes. These same proportions are at work in our psyches and are the source of our need for harmony and of our ability to recognize it. Early in the history of the first great cultures, people realized that the source of those proportions and the potential creative energies that rested in them were encoded in the relatively simple act of drawing a perfect circle. They found that by systematically dividing up the circle into equal portions with a compass and ruler (probably pegs and ropes on the ground) those proportions could be played upon in such a way that the primal unity of the circle would generate from within itself all the archetypal forms; and, in so doing reveal the secrets of growth and transformation. For thousands of years that act was indeed conceived as a symbolic participation in the original Creation.
It would seem only natural then that this unique generative system be applied to the design of temples, each conceived as a model of the cosmos; major projects of entire cultures in their supreme effort to connect material to spirit. We no longer build temples, and geometry is taught merely as a technical tool. But art and its ability to convey concepts continues.
I use several of the methods integral to the ‘antique‘ approach, such as the legendary Golden Section (also known as the “Divine Proportion“) and Golden (“Fibonacci“) Scale and root rectangles. I have combined these with Western (Itten, Albers) and Japanese harmonic color systems. My feeling is that the use of these methods and systems, as simple as they are, is as close as I can get to actually touch and simulate, albeit in a primitive fashion, the true reality and ‘style‘ of nature.
From its earliest beginnings to the present day, the history of art has subdivided into two super-cultures, each possessing a distinctive ethos and artistic mentality. An artist is drawn to one or the other mainly by his disposition, though one cannot disregard the influence of time and place.
In the Dionysian art culture the artist is the protagonist which reflects his inner world presenting a personal interpretation of the surrounding reality. Its most characteristic sign is gestural ‘ handwriting‘ or brushwork that at times can seem to be barely controlled. Parallel signs appear in sculpture in the choice and handling of materials. A central value of the Dionysian Ethos is the concept of the creative act as a chain of actions, responses and improvisations; a tense and exciting adventure whose final result is not known in advance. The Apollonian Ethos (known also as Classical or ‘constructive‘) is founded on two essentials. One is that a creation should be constructed around transcendent concepts that lie beyond everyday experience. The second is that a work of art should be founded on a chosen set of game rules which, once defined, become obligatory. The paradigm of the Apollonian Ethos is architecture, particularly temple architecture. This is a paradigm of systematic order and elegant finish, the product of careful planning and precise geometry, of integrated systems of harmonic proportions such as the Golden Ratio and Progression that continues to surface again and again in diverse areas of research, including Fractal Theory. As in architecture, an Apollonian creation does not bear palpable signs of the artist‘s hand. His personality, his preferences and vision are expressed in the entirety of his style. It is a delayed, sublimated expression that manifests itself in the finished works.
The long hegemony of the Dionysian ethos in Israel‘s plastic arts has created a situation in which I, associated with the Apollonian ethos belong to an “esoteric“ minority, am obliged to write texts such as this one as a kind of apologia.
My work has been involved with geometric order since the middle 1960s. For 20 years I had rigorously confined it to the strict purist discipline of Concrete Art. That meant systematic, self-contained relationships of forms and colors that alluded to nothing outside of themselves. In the middle 1980s my unease with what was happening in the country escalated into a crisis of belief in the Zionist Dream. The gap between the emerging character of the country and the vision and ideals that drew me to Israel had grown to such critical proportions that I felt that if I didn‘t succeed in rebuilding my bond to this place I would have no alternative but to sever my connection to it. The concept that eventually de-fused this personal crisis and led me to place my work in a new context was that of a reconstructed self-image as both an Israeli and a permanent resident in the geographical-historical region that surrounds my home. I took the map of the ancient world and redefined it as a personal territory that extends from the Tigris in the east to the Pillars of Hercules in the west; and from Abu Simbel in the south to the province of Veneto, Italy, in the north. This enabled me to extricate myself from the intense pressure of daily life in this narrow country and to move about freely in a broader expanse of space and time. I have found this change in scale to have been decidedly therapeutic.
In this way I returned metaphysical geometry to its place of origin - Egypt, and to the architectural legacy of the temple in Egypt, Greece, Jerusalem and the Islamic world. I concentrated mainly on temple plans, constructions in Canaan and the Israelite kingdoms, architectural elements and details, aspects of the tel (four-dimensional layered patterns) and various objects. I applied the traditional proportions and other characteristics in order to create new versions combining elements from different times and places together with new ones. Color acquired new attributes. It was no longer a matter of pure autonomous harmonic configurations but became a transmitter of symbolic and cultural information. I reached the conclusion that the quintessential hues of the greater part of ‘my‘ territory derive from the complementary pair blue and orange. Together with our typical extreme contrasts of light (white) and shadow (black), a palette of colours can be constructed from that axis. It moderate oscillations and admixtures are those that one actually encounters in the landscapes and the architecture. The typical proportions are large areas of orange derivatives (browns, tans. desert, sandstone, bricks) contrasted with small amounts of blue derivatives (turquoise, greens, tiles, oasis, seashores)..
The holon is the basic unit of every kind of evolution. It is an entity that is in itself whole, and simultaneously part of some other whole. Each new emerging holon includes and transcends its predecessor(s). The process becomes increasingly complex, but also additional, unpredictable, attributes surface in each new stage or generation of growth.
The holonic model (the concept was introduced by Arthur Koestler in 1967) makes clear that each new stage of development carries with it all the stages that preceded it. The ‘old‘ remains part of the new, it is not erased. That is a situation with deep significance in respect to cultural developments.
Looking back, the holonic model accurately describes the changes that took place in my work and in the self-image that I created, stage after stage of ‘including and transcending‘. holonic evolution is also the generic method of Islamic pattern-making.
The adjective ‘decorative‘, which is usually appended automatically to Islamic patterns by many Western observers, and the term ‘arabesque‘, are misleading. They suggest that patterns are bereft of meaning and function and are merely visual entertainment, not a serious art form. It is likely due to the fact that in the temples erected by all the known cultures with the exceptions of Judaism and Islam, the structure itself was the support for an additional layer of art concerned with storytelling and the portrayal of mythical and historical figures. Like the floor in the Sistine Chapel, geometric designs were subsidiary, indeed, often decorative parts of the architectural setting and were outside the focus of attention. In Judaism and Islam, images that might be construed as idolatry are forbidden, permitted only are the use of geometric symbols and quotations from the holy texts. In Islam, however, the sophisticated geometric design method of mosque architecture produced a new art-science of pattern-making. The building, based on the relatively simple geometric unity of the plan, acts as the support for intricate patterns. The more interesting of these patterns are dense with sub-patterns and suggest several readings. The end result is a coherency of meaning throughout the entire edifice, its exterior and interior, representing growth, evolution, invention and diversity as timeless cosmic universals.
Aside from the fact that geometric systems have long been recognized as the structural mode of matter, this cosmological concept, that crystallized in visual form more than a thousand years ago, often coincides with Fractal Theory. This theory, since the early 1980s, has created geometric models that reproduce the underlying order of so-called “chaotic“ phenomena in nature. Both the Islamic method of pattern-making and the fractal system are based on the reiteration of simple “seed“ polygons or modules. These coagulate into groups, which in turn aggregate into ever larger groups. The identifying mark of a fractal image is that the composites are identical in their overall contour with that of the smallest seed-form. Embracing as it does both metaphysics and contemporary science, the Islamic pattern is an ideal visual metaphor of the universal evolutionary creative force at work.
The names we bear are not to be taken lightly. A name projects an image inwardly to the person bearing it, as well as to others. They are connotative. The names given to us at birth are not necessarily ones that we like, or feel comfortable with. I suspect that when that happens it may be due to an ill-fitting persona that the name exudes and which does not coincide with the individual‘s self-image, his anima. Names are comprised of four elements: cultural or national identity, semantic meaning, sound and appearance.
In my mid-teens I remember toying with variations on my given name, Mark Raymond Berman. The source then was my unease with “Berman“. It is an uneasiness I feel to this day. When I decided to recharge my Jewish identity and become an Israeli I exchanged Mark Raymond for the Hebrew name Reuven. It was common practice then for immigrants and public servants with European origins to change their Germanic-Yiddish names to Hebrew ones. Reuven proved to be a good instinctive choice. Much later, and after sporadic searching over a period of 40 years I added the Hebrew ‘Kadim“ after Berman with the intention of eventually dropping Berman altogether. (In the 1980s there were those who retrieved their Diaspora names as a declaration that they no longer wished to disengage themselves from their origins and placed them alongside their Hebrew names. Again I was out of step.) I used the addition of Kadim for the first time in 1991 on the invitation to an exhibition, having felt that the time was ripe to announce that I had naturalized myself in my recently extended cultural territory, personally as well as artistically.
The root “KDM“ in Hebrew is common to the words for ‘east‘ (archaic) and ‘antiquity‘ as well as ‘to go forward‘. A perfect fit! Later, I decided with a sense of great relief that the next time I show new work I will appear as Reuven Kadim. (My wife does not agree to adopt it at this late stage so it is not a legal name but a “pen name“) Thus I have put the final touch to my long identity project in classic holonic style.
The dominant culture of western Asia and of more than half of the Mediterranean basin is that of Islam. The central pillar of Islamic art, its morphological language, is that of precise geometric systems. Because the language of geometry continues to be unknown and/or distasteful to most Israeli artists, nearly all the references made to the Arab East in Israeli painting have been attempts to capture a milieu of streets, types, landscapes, interiors and objects. In the early decades of the century newly immigrant painters did this in a romantic idealistic vein. In more recent decades it has taken the form of political protests against the behavior of Israel towards Palestinian Arabs. But no dialogue has ever been initiated with Islamic art, except in one or two instances related to popular or folk art. That may also be due in part to the fact that high Islamic art is today a heritage rather than a living body of contemporary creativity. The extremely rare exceptions only prove the rule. Its magnificent anonymous achievements comprise a kind of copyright-free image bank which craftsmen use to copy and imitate. The attempt to master the use of its language and morphologies and carry them further as a novice practitioner has been the essence of my efforts in recent years. Of course, all the conditions have changed but the fertile Jewish-Moslem cultural interactions in pre-Inquisition Spain are a historical precedent that should not be forgotten.