Creatures of Midsummer Nights


"I think with my hands; I think with my fingertips. I understand what needs to be done, and then I forget the whole thing and start playing. I let my instincts lead me, and just start playing like a little kid."

For 40 years, since the beginning of his career as a sculptor, Aharale Ben Aryeh has specialized in massive outdoor sculptures located in public parks and playgrounds, in Israel and abroad. In spite of his wealth of experience and technical virtuosity, he still sees his signature artistic process as an intuitive act - creating through doing. Ben Aryeh starts from an examination of the materials he is working with, through which his creative thought processes will be expressed. As the curator and artist Izzika Gaon said about him, "his point of departure is anchored in the material, or to be precise the meeting-point of material and conceptual. The ‘What' and the ‘How' always go hand in hand. His works are made up of dozens of intersecting elements, combined into a single formal perfection."

The exhibition A Midsummer Night's Zoo, in the Archeological Garden of Muza - Eretz Israel Museum Tel Aviv, features around 30 sculptures in the form of animals, including peacock, elephant, grasshopper, fish, snake, lion, horse, crocodile, goat, frog, duck, praying mantis, lizard and others. The animals were conceived and born in Ben Aryeh's imagination, took on flesh and blood - or rather wood and metal - and grew to heights of up to five meters. Each one is an independent creation, but their placement together is reminiscent of a primeval zoo, an alternative art happening, or an out-of-control playground.

The animals "call on" the public to walk around them. Unlike sculptures in "conventional" art exhibitions they are not restricted to hands-off viewing. Each and every one of them permits visitors to touch them, move them, and interact with them. By a simple action, any child can make them spread their wings, open their mouths, or wag their tails. This means that every evening a wonderful new world will come to life in the Museum garden - a world combining play and adventure, entertainment and creation, imagination and craft.

Curator - Yuval Saar                                                               


Artist: Aharale Ben Aryeh

Author and Illustrator: Einat Tsarfati


Production Consultant: Zachi Becker | Production: Eli Saban | Construction: Shahar Ohev Zion, Lishay Levron, Udi Shalev | Photography: Amir Ronen | Graphic design: Dafna Zilbershtein