Michael Hafftka, has a way with paint, and he can pace his sometimes very large paintings in such a way that we want to see what will happen next.
New York has scarcely seen figure paintings of such unrelenting solemnity and exasperation, or with so original an authority, since Francis Bacon brought his first exhibition to the city. Like him, Hafftka can be characterized as both an eccentric visionary and an increasingly dazzling technician whose virtuoso painterly expressivity and skills invite comparison with the masters.
Hafftka is a marvelously resourceful Neo-Expressionist in command of technique, subject matter and, most important, vision. He’s also one of the best young painters to have come along in a decade, without posturing or pretense or super evident jockeying for art-world position. Hafftka is too hideously virtuous for the latter; and, if virtue is its own reward, it is also, in this case, proof of an astonishing integrity of style.
Hafftka is a humanist in the line of Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt and Myer Shapiro — his are wild notations in an inescapable flesh and fire. There is in him Soutine and Bacon, a space opened for the scream of creatures; He is not afraid of pathos and the nightmares of Goya.