David Gerstein was born in Jerusalem in the forties. Together with his twin brother, he had to devise toys from anything that came to hand. They invented a world for themselves, cutting people and cars out of cardboard and painting windows, wheels and doors onto them. The Gerstein twins, bubbling with relentless creativity, were quickly considered highly gifted wonder children.
Gerstein studied and taught in Jerusalem, Paris, New York and London, all the while exhibiting his work in one-person and group exhibitions.
The real motive that lies behind Gerstein's works is direct pleasure in observing things and in dealing with them by means of traditional painting methods, a pleasure that is reflected in the euphoric happiness radiating from his cut-outs.
Gerstein views the objects which he creates as being neither pure painting nor pure sculpture, but as a thing which breaks out of the square and the frame and confers on the painting a new living space; at the same time it frees the sculpture from dealing with the essence of the material. Gerstein's painted objects have a life of their own. It is on the border line that Gerstein feels most comfortable: between sculpture and painting and design; between flat and three dimensional; between art objects and toys; between the airy light presence of the object which hangs on the wall with its shadows and the heavy weight of the object; between "high" and "low".
Gerstein: "For me art is something simple and basic, like bread and water and air. I have heard about artists' creative torments, but I feel that I create naturally, like a fruit growing on a tree. I also think of my works as fruit that the tree has sprouted. I don't have to invent anything or rack my brain on how to process a grandiose idea: things simply grow by themselves. They flow when I'm driving, talking, in the morning before I get out of bed. Then I come to the studio and work, and perhaps cultivate my fruit: A piece of fruit on which nature bestows enticing color and shape, so that birds will come and feed on it and disperse its seeds. In other words, the tempting color and shape have function and reason.
"The shapes and colors in my work, too, are an enticement to communicate. Whoever is tempted to eat from the fruit, will discover that it also contains vitamins. There are vitamins in the cut-outs as well. For example, 'Human Circle' looks like a huge flower or a big bouquet, but underneath it all lies the notion that we come from nowhere and are going nowhere and in the meantime we go around in circles, chasing our tails. Whoever wishes to view it as a decorative bouquet, that's fine. If you look at the figures that make up the 'Human Circle', you'll find that they are not beautiful. In fact, they're even ugly, but the total picture is colorful and alluring".
Tel Aviv February 1997
Until the late eighties - when the large body of his works called "cut-outs" appeared, along with the process of reproducing them in series of up to 295 signed and numbered copies, hand-painted in industrial paints with some variational freedom - Gerstein went through different expressive phases, yet in all of them he brought together the biographical with the local. Over the years his image reservoir grew to include local trees and birds, and the simple pleasures of sand and sea and riding a bicycle with one's hair blowing in the wind.