Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Beautiful Rebel: Michael Hafftka

My friend, Michael Hafftka, a beautiful rebel, in a film about his art circa 1981.

For me, studying Michael's oeuvre over the years has been an exercise in unmasking what is normally hidden, exposing what is usually forbidden. 

For me, the Hafftka experience is intensely personal. Scrutinizing his work can be jarring, because he unflinchingly portrays subconscious truths that most of us deny even exist within ourselves. 

Most of us are invested in denying the realizations that Hafftka reveals. For some, the confrontation with the feelings that he evokes can be supremely emotional.

It is difficult to write about Hafftka, a sure sign that we are in the presence of fundamental forces that displace vast gravity wells within our psyches.

I think that Michael Hafftka succeeds as an artist because his work is a challenge, a challenge to bring insight and integrity to the viewing, a challenge that most of us fail upon first contact. When you gaze at a Hafftka illustration, you eventually realize that his portraits are mirrors, you are actually seeing yourself.

No other artist depicts the dark side of the human animal like Michael Hafftka. His work is often characterized as disturbing, but we all bring our own baggage to every experience of a work of art. If Hafftka's work is disturbing, it is because there is already something disturbing inside of you. You just may not be aware of it.

Every Hafftka illustration is a mirror. We each experience something secret if we have the integrity to honestly see what the work shows us. 

Michael did some illustrations for the Hafftka edition of my book Idioms of Dreams: A Tale of the Grenada Raiders. I cannot wait to release the text and illustrations into the world.

Coming soon.

Illustrations by Michael Hafftka are now in museums worldwide. 

This short film portrays him as a young artist, before his later fame.


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