When I discovered the artwork created by Michael Hafftka I was transfixed not only by his painting but by his background, the profundity and power of his art shook me. As a child I studied history and during this time I visited Auschwitz to view the unbelievably horrific atrocities of the holocaust, a day that changed my outlook on life forever, stamped within my soul was the heartlessness, fear and truly disturbing acts of human cruelty. Michael has experienced the consequences first hand, born to European refugees and Holocaust survivors his underlying destiny to paint was driven by a quest for freedom and his perception of his parents wartime experiences.
Viewing Michael’s work you feel the emotion, the expression, the intimacy of his life, the personal transference of his spirituality. A writer and artist displaying truthfellness and depth. Often categorised as a neo-expressionist Michael’s work portrays influences of Goya, Bacon and Schiele. I can only imagine Michael’s delight when he introduced his art to the often ‘difficult’ character that was Francis Bacon who declared his work ‘beautiful’ praise that is certainly deserved!
Visions and dreams, a connection to the past and the representation of soul are all present in Michael’s work. A master of his craft, a unique and inspirational artist and we are truly honoured to showcase a selection of his paintings. Michael’s work is represented in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, New York Public Library, Housatonic Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Yeshiva University Museum and other museums.
Self taught or art school?
I am self-taught.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
There is no one painting I would like to own, my favorites change continually. I am most focused on my own work.
How would you describe your style?
Personal, an expression of myself.
Where are your favourite places to view art?
Museums and galleries.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
There are so many great artists and paintings that have inspired and influenced me. Luckily a lot are in museums where I can see them. The paintings that come to mind immediately are Rembrandt’s self-portrait in the Met from 1660, Goya’s The Forge 1815-1820 in the Frick, Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Johann Harms, 1916 in the Guggenheim and Francis Bacon’s Painting and Dog 1946 in MOMA. There are many more Picasso, Kandinsky, Dubuffet, Klee and Giacometti among them. Among my peers I very much enjoy Farrell Brickhouse, Ping Chen, Brenda Goodman and Genieve Figgis. With regard to why, their work always inspires and surprises me. I often feel I wish I had done that and that is a very pleasant feeling of recognition, especially of ones peers.
What or who inspires your art?
My emotions, relationships poetry, writing and music inspire me.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
A loft by the waterfront in Brooklyn. It is a very quiet space which enhances the feeling that one is in ones own world while working.
Do you have any studio rituals?
I pace back and forth in front of my easel.
What are you working on currently?
My next painting.
Where can we buy your art?
I love when people come to me It is always a treat to know who is living with my work.
What are your ambitions?
To have the love of my family, to make good work and to die old and without pain and sorrow.
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