For the last 30 years, Outsider artist David Zeldis has lived and worked in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, making as little contact as possible with the outside world. A fear of sharp objects forces him to fashion his own drawing implements and sharpen them with the edge of a nickel. It is under these constraints, and others brought on by his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, that Zeldis makes his work, exhibiting a control and delicacy that belies the subject matter and the environment of their creation. Rendered in graphite, colored pencil, or crayon, the subtle shading and deliberate line quality of Zeldis’ drawings bring a touch of beauty to images of apocalyptic landscapes and mysterious, chambered interiors. Littered within these meticulously created spaces are the totemic forms of Zeldis’ experiences and thoughts—clocks, rats, lizards, flies and stars. Deeply symbolic and self-referential, the drawings convey the otherworldliness that is the interior of one’s mind. Zeldis openly relocates his own interior to the paper and does so with uncanny precision. That clarity of vision enriches the world from which he has willfully withdrawn. His small drawings depict idealized nature scenes and dream-like visions of animals or insects.
Zeldis was born in 1952 in Beersheba, Israel and is the son of self-taught artist Malcah Zeldis. He attended the School of Visual Arts, New York, where he studied photography for one year before beginning to draw and write in earnest. Zeldis has had solo exhibitions at Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, and Luise Ross Gallery, New York, as well as at the Akron Museum, Akron, OH, and the New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, NY. His work has been in numerous group exhibitions in both galleries and museums, including the Visionary Museum, Baltimore, MD; Craft and Folk Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Noyes Museum, Oceansville, NJ; Nevada Art Museum, Las Vegas; Historical Society of Washington, D.C.; Edlin Fine Art Gallery, New York; Frank Miele Gallery, New York; Janet Fleisher Gallery, Philadelphia; and Marquard Gallery, Venice, CA, among others. Zeldis’ work can also be found in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; New York Historical Association, Cooperstown; Akron Art Museum; Noyes Museum of Art; and the Visionary Museum. Zeldis is also the author of the novel The Time Sphere and a collection of poetry, Carmen’s Parakeet and Other Poems.