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David A. Haughton: Kindertotentanz

Gallery O – Contemporary, The Art Center
Vancouver BC – May 3-17, 2007

David Haughton - Encephalocele II

David HaughtonEncephalocele II (1998), acrylic on board [Gallery O - Contemporary, The Art Center, Vancouver BC, May 3-17]

David A. Haughton’s Kindertotentanz are difficult and disturbing works. Kindertotentanz, meaning “children’s dance of death”, is a group of over 100 works created between 1984 and 2000, including etchings, aquatints, pen and ink drawings, oil paintings on canvas and acrylic paintings. They explore Dr. Haughton’s emotions as a pediatrician faced with the suffering of very ill and dying children, particularly during his early years of paediatric training in Los Angeles.

The sad fact is, between genetic disorders, premature births, fetal alcohol syndrome, cancer, meningitis, neurological development and more, the malformations pictured here are a distinct reality. The expectation of a "normal" child is reasonable, but not necessarily a reality.

David Haughton - Triptych/Trsomy 13

David Haughton, Triptych/Trsomy 13 (1996), detail, acrylic on board [Gallery O - Contemporary, The Art Center, Vancouver BC, May 3-17]

The most affirmative spirit in the work can be traced to art created by the Maori people of New Zealand, through which Haughton found the language to structure his images. Lizards, birds, eels and fish, the night, heavens and the moon figure prominently. The lizard, signifying death, is a key element in the Maori theory of disease, and the doctor's task is to stop the lizard from entering the child’s mouth. In many of Haughton's images, the infants themselves are left to wrestle with the lizard. Witnessing the fateful struggles are Greek Orthodox-like saints from Haughton’s own ancestry, who provide the viewer with glimpses of hope, reverence and even awe. As both a doctor and an artist, his penetrating work is a true gift to us.

David Haughton is simultaneously exhibiting Ships, Mountains, and the Sea IV, a series of British Columbia coastal landscapes, May 3-27 at The Art Center.


Mia Johnson

David Haughton - Apert Syndrome

David HaughtonApert Syndrome (2000), acrylic on board, acrylic on board [Gallery O - Contemporary, The Art Center, Vancouver BC, May 3-17]

 Fri, Apr 6, 2007