David Hochbaum

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David Hochbaum

By combining several ingredients and elements David Hochbaum is looking for certain philosophical and psychological truths, while he tries to uncover a revelation of understanding. His approach to art actually reminds one of the chemists seeking the philosopher’s stone in Alchemy: by experimenting all the fine art techniques he learned during his studies, such as photography, painting, woodworking, film and sculpture, Hochbaum in his studio calcinates, distillates, ferments, and sublimates the subjects of his work, transforming them through his very own original language from common people to mythological and psychological archetypes. Following a strong interest in ancient Greeck mythology, Hochbaum found his personal connection to the myths, giving birth to new interpretations allowing him to explore the world around. The mythology was slowly becoming less about the archaic history and becoming more centred on his private life, on his living context, on his historical time. David spends a lot of time photographing the places he frequented as a child and as a young man, to inject the figurative element of a specific place and time. This process mixed with the spontaneous creation in the studio allows him to recreate and reinvent his memories and his personal history, adding subtle references of current events happening to and around him. His collages of cities and towers reflect the surroundings of the cities he lived and the places he has traveled over the years. The cities in Hochbaum’s work are at the same time portraits and landscapes, giving to the layers of architecture, the elements and gestures of humans. The people become the cities and the cities become portraits of the figures. And as mythology used to pass over the universal knowledge of the spirit of the days, the personal mythification of the artist’s life and of the people in it gives us a blink on some of the spirit of our time, rich with hopes, desires, emotions, memories and dreams. Although the specific subject matter and the process have been changing over the years, from myths to damsels, to ghosts, to children, to cities, there are a few recurring images that have remained in David’s work. The most recognisable of these images are the house, the ladder, the boat and the bird. Their significance and meaning is not locked into one specific thing and are able to adapt to the work they are represented in. But they each do have an instantaneous and underlying personal meaning for the artist: The ladder is a method of entry and escape. It has become a message of elevation and reaching a higher level of understanding. Also, it has taken on the meaning of collaborative effort. The house is the mask of memory, the roots of memory. It is the elusive image conjured from recollection and dreams. It is also the thing he is searching for. The boat represents quite figuratively the journey. The bird is fantastic, the unrelenting power and mystery of the language of nature. The very famous painting “The Tower Of Babel” of Pieter Bruegel the elder, impressed so much David Hochbaum in his young age to consciously influence the aesthetic of his fantastic cities. Tributes and homages to the Dutch renaissance Master became recurrent in Hochbaum’s work, not only to underline the affection for the very first artist having an impact on him but also to nourish Hochbaum’s personal private mythology exactly by linking it to such classical masterpiece, representing, in turn, a world-renown myth. From what we could define David’s mid career, he realizes how deeply-rooted is the subconscient bond he had all his life with the work of German contemporary painter Anselm Kiefer. The way Kiefer uses textures, rough brush strokes and layers, how he integrates litographs and drawings in his painting, how he uses “poor” materials, how he gets inspired by nature and landscapes, was unconsciously influencing the American painter for years. As photographer Hochbaumprefers black and white film photography, even if color is not banned from his work, sometimes recurring to retro-paint his photographs, more rarely using normal color film. The association to Jan Saudek’s work while confronted to Hochbaum’s retro-colored photographs, is almost immediate; not only because of the technique, but also for the use of costumes, often quite barock, and of handmade scenographies and special objects, and the peculiar use of the body. Hochbaum’s models are often embracing poses out of ordinary, quite acrobatic, maintaining a pointed sensuality but never falling into the manifested erotism of Saudek’s shot. That is not only because the work of other photographers played a strong inspirational role for David Hochbaum, such the British pioneer portrait-photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and the dark, grottesque, yet superb, work of the American photographer Joel-Peter Witkin; but mainly because despite the multiple references and inspirations, Hochbaum’s work developed a strong independent voice and unmistakable style.

David Hochbaum

  • Luisa Catucci Gallery's Exhibitions 35