Victor and Margalit Halvani lived in Safed for 35 years, as members of the artist’s Colony society. They built their home there and managed a successful art gallery, drawing art collectors from around the world.
In 2010, when the Halvani square in Safed was dedicated, the couple received the distinction “Beloved of the city Safed”, and won praises from the mayor – Ilan Shochet, for their contribution to the advancement of the city’s art and culture. Victor’s sculptures are displayed at two major squares in the city, in gardens and in the Yigal Alon culture centre’s courtyard, there is no resident in town who doesn’t recognize his works.
In 1990 Victor, in collaboration with the Halvani artist association and the Safed municipality headed by Zeev Pearl, launched the Victor Halvani sculpture park. The first phases of the park and sculptures were donated by the late Mr. Irvin Young, a devoted collector of Victor’s art. The park is on the outskirts of Safed – on the road between Rosh Pina and Safed. Large outdoor sculptures were placed in the garden – “The binding of Isaac”, constituted of seven large sculptures which join together to form a sculptured story, and additional sculptures such as “Trojan horse return”, “Miriam with the drum”, “Space age family”, “Hope for peace”, and “Ruth and Naomi”.
``The Spies`` at the Halvani Square south entrance of Safed
Not every artist lives to see a place named after him in his lifetime. Two different places bear Victor’s name in Israel, One – the sculpture park “Victor Halvani”, on the outskirts of Safed, coming from the direction of Rosh Pina. The second – “Halvani Square” at the southern entrance to the city, where the sculptured Monument “The spies” is installed. Additionally, his sculpture “The Shofar” is placed at the northeastern square in the city. In these pictures we can see the work process in the studio.
``The binding of Isaac``, Victor Halvani sculpture park
The binding of Isaac has continued to fascinate artists and intellectuals seeking it’s essence and philosophical meaning. In the artistic idea, which metamorphosed into the environmental sculpture project – “The binding of Isaac”, handiwork of Victor Halvani, the biblical figures are represented in the form of space objects. The figure of Abraham is a mother ship sailing in the atmosphere, while the figure of the bound son Issac is bound with three ropes to it’s head nearby. All the while the figures of the lads and the donkey are placed further out, as if viewing the happenings, but not taking part in it. The Ram entangled in the burning bush seems as a part of Abraham’s body placed higher up on the mountain. All the figures are aerodynamic and give off the feeling they are flying off to space soon. The exact distances the artist placed between the seven figures of the sculpture contribute to the mysterious aura surrounding the story of the binding. The figures are crafted of bronze with a special green patina covering, there color blending with the color of the natural rocks of the mountain and the shrubbery planted around them in the park.
A park is built
The park is unfinished, and future construction phases await it in the future. The park is managed by the Victor Halvani artist association in partnership with the Safed municipality responsible for the infrastructure.
In the pictures we see the first phases of the park’s construction, laying the foundations for the sculpture’s bases, and flattening the area. Just as all public spaces in the area, the Victor Halvani park invites it’s guests to come and enjoy the quality art and splendorous scenery, to see the sculptures and breathe the clear Safed mountain air.
One of the exciting things which constitute the artist’s daily life is undoubtedly the human encounters, with people near and far, familiar and less familiar. There are countless examples from Victor Halvani’s life, some of them even recorded in photographs:
Victor and Gene Hackman in a joint photo at the Art Expo exhibition in New York, Victor and Margalit Halvani with Kirk Douglas and his wife, photo from the actor’s visit to the artist’s home in 1967.
``Hope for peace``
In the photos we see the sculpture displayed in Cyprus at the sea, In the Victor Halvani Sculpture Park on the outskirts of Safed, and in the industrial district square in the town of Katzrin, The Golan hights. The sculpture is available in several sizes, also suitable for interior spaces.
``David playing the harp``
``Genesis I`` with Victor and Margalit Halvani in Safed, main exhibition
“Than he took one of his ribs and closed up it’s place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Genesis 2.21-22)
The creation of Adam and Eve, as one entity encompassing two bodies, or two unseparated bodies, inspired the artist to study the symmetry or asymmetry in the relationship between Adam and Eve – Man and Women, and the timeless dilemmas humans face to this day, as separate – yet interconnected, creatures.
The artist finds educational value in the banishment of Adam and Eve and the birth of human suffering and regret.
``Mother playing with child``
2015 – Participation in the sculpture open air exhibition in Mamilla Boulevard plaza in Jerusalem. Sculptures included in the exhibit: David with Harp”, “Mother playing with child”, “Yuval, father of Harp”
The motifs of motherhood and music have fascinated the artist throughout his creative career. Over the years original attributes were formed which were a special inspiration in their outline to other artists, in Israel and worldwide. The lines form figures which tell a different story from every angel, their deeper essence is non replicable.
In the sculptures “Yuval, father of harp”, and “David playing the harp”, the elegant biblical figure returns to strum on the ancient harp strings, and in the sculpture “Mother playing with her son” exhibited at various locations worldwide, the love between the mother and her child can be felt as he looks to her riding above her stomach.
``Ruth and Naomi``, Mamilla, Jerusalem
Participation in the sculpture open air exhibition in the Mamilla Boulevard plaza in Jerusalem. Sculptures in the exhibit:
“Ruth and Naomi”, “David playing the Harp” “Girl with Fawn”.
The sculpture “Ruth and Naomi”, consisting of two symmetrical figures merging into one another as if they were one figure, is an illustration of the artist’s interest in complex human relationships,from ancient times until the present. The love relationships, loyalty and friendship between Ruth and Naomi, between Adam and Eve, mothers and their children, fathers and their sons, are threads going through the artist’s creations, and no doubt transfix the viewers, as if, for a moment, they saw there reflection in the sculptures.
View from the Halvani Art Gallery, Ein Hod
In 1974 Victor and Margalit built their home in the Ein Hod artist’s village. They were both accepted as members of the village and Victor managed the village’s art school. Between 1980 and 2012 they divided their time between the Safed artist colony and the Ein Hod artist village. In 2012 Victor and Margalit chose Ein Hod as their permanent dwelling place, and renovated their three story house, with a work floor, a living floor, and a gallery floor. Currently a large collection of works are displayed for sale at the gallery in the Halvani house. In 2013 the sculpture “David playing the harp” was installed in the Yemini sculpture garden, at the main entrance to the village, and plans for the Victor and Margalit museum are taking on form.
The opening ceremony of the Jacob Javits center in NYC
In 1986 this project was chosen and displayed at the main entrance to the Jacob Javits convention center as a tribute to his public service. The building serves the international art exhibition Art Expo New York.
This sculpture constitutes of 28 figures of angels spread over seven levels. The foundations also consists of seven layers of wood resembling an eye with a pupil at it’s center. The pupil is constructed from wood of the Beth- El area. The sculpture is 10 meters high by 7 meters wide.
``David playing harp``at the Northeastern University, Boston
In 1995 the sculpture was placed in the Stanley and Barbara Young at the Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.
This sculpture was acquired by art collections around the world and is also displayed at the Center for Theater arts at the University of Oklahoma, and in the Jewish Culture Garden in Bloomfield, Michigan. In 2014 it was displayed at the Mamilla Mall and bought by a Singaporean art collector. It can currently be viewed in the Yemini sculpture garden in Ein Hod and at the artist’s gallery courtyard in Ein Hod.
The sculpture’s foundation is an artwork in itself, made of bronze with a relief describing the seven gates in the walls of Jerusalem, corresponding to the seven strings of the instrument. The numbers three and seven recur in the artist’s works as auspicious numbers in Judaism.
``David playing the harp`` at the University of Oklahoma.
“a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valour, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him” (Samuel 1 16)
In 1997 the work “David playing the harp” was bought and placed at the entrance to the Bud Seretean Art center at the University of Oklahoma. Bud Seretean was a devoted collector of Victor’s art and a family friend. He was known for his love of art and donations to cultural institutions in the U.S. and Israel.
The work depicts David as a young man, a shepherd kneeling on his knees and playing a harp-like instrument. His fingers strum the instrument and his head is tilted down in humility. In the later version “David and the harp” his head and thoughts are tilted upward, as If already assured of his future as king, standing proud and tall.
Working on ``The shofar`` project
There is nothing more complete than the creative process itself, beginning with the flash of insight emerging in a surprise as a divine magic touch, and continuing to take shape until it becomes a sculpture. Sometimes built as a metal skeleton covered by nets, as a base for a plaster model – a critical step which can take weeks or months. In those long days, the artist spends his time in solitude at his studio, agonizing over the correct measurements sizes and proportions, examining the statue from every angle, until it takes on life, as if it had a soul of it’s own. It isn’t a secret Victor Halvani is attached to all his models, as if they were his children. Many a time the separation from a model on it’s way to the bronze casting at the foundry involves a concern and sense of longing. At the foundry a highly skilled team carries out the phases of casting, and at this stage the artist still closely follows the process, until the work returns to him, in raw form, still requiring polishing, welding, and painting. Countless hours of work can pass until the perfect creation is born and the sculpture completed. Yuval Halvani, son of the artist, and an artist in his own right, performs these steps.
``Maternity`` displayed at the Caesarea Gallery
Victor Halvani began to sculpt in the 50’s, and his first sculptures were exhibited in the art galleries in Caesarea, in the Alharizi artist house in Tel Aviv, in the Mother Garden in Haifa, and in the central library of Hadera. Victor also designed and created the Holocaust memorial site in Hibat Zion, and the monument in memory of the fallen in the Hadera high school. Victor experimented with various sculpture styles and paved his artistic path via experimentation with unconventional materials, such as Perspex (acrylic glass), polymeric foams, and combinations of metals woods and plaster. At the end of the 70’s he began to cast in bronze, working in collaboration with his son Yuval, becoming leading experts in bronze sculpture production in Israel.
1973 – Caesarea, the sculpture “Two Figures” is exhibited in art gallery.
1972 – Caesarea, the sculpture “Adam and Eve” is exhibited in art gallery.
1970 – London, upon graduation his sculpture “Peace Dove” is exhibited by the Hammersmith College of art and building.
1961 – Paris, Biannual exhibit for young artist’s art, the sculpture “Deer” was chosen to represent Israeli artists at the exhibit.
1959 – Haifa, the sculpture “Mothers” was chosen for the exhibit “Statue and Garden”, which brought together the best Israeli artists of the 50’s. The sculpture was sold and installed at the Lobby of the municipal hospital in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
1958 – Tel Aviv, Elharizi artist house, the sculpture “Flamingo” was exhibited, made of plaster and metal. The sculpture was cast in bronze and is currently exhibited at the artist’s gallery in Ein Hod.
Victor revisiting his holocaust memorial monument after 50 years
``Chariot of fire`` at the Yigal Alon's culture center in Safed
1999 – Safed, Yigal Alon culture centre’s courtyard, construction and placement of the sculpture project “Chariot of fire”, describing Elijah the Prophet’s ascent to heaven in a storm. The chariot of fire created by the artist rises to the height of 14 meters, mimicking a spacecraft with three pipes of fire casted at it’s bottom propelling it up to space. The figure of the prophet is in the center of the sculpture surrounded by three stories of fiery horses mimicking turbines. “Chariot of fire” is a project which won the ministry of housing and construction prize and is displayed at the Yigal Alon house of culture plaza in Safed.