GRANT HAFFNER

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When I saw my first Grant Haffner‘s painting, my heart smiled with joy and I felt the sudden urge to dust off my motorcycle and set out on a long haul across America, this time riding over his colorful roads. I remember, as a teenager, reading “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon, an epic crossing of America’s minor roads (typically marked in blue on the Rand McNally Road Atlas) and “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, with his almost irritating pursuit of perfection, and also Jupiter’s Travel by Ted Simon, with the account of his round the world journey in the Mid Seventies, riding his Triumph 500. I have been crossing the States several times by motorbike, car and camper but I couldn’t ever catch the fleetly spirit of traveling, always vanishing in front of my wheel as a mirage in the desert. When I saw Haffner’s roads, I had my revelation. There it was, in front of me, the mindscape I had been chasing for such a long time. These paintings, I’m convinced, can’t be deeply understood by anyone who never developed a fine appreciation of the tarmac’s smell after a storm. These are the running images dedicated to the wanderer, the nomadic bum, the thirsty underdog, the man high on drugs. It’s the best and highest representation of that rootless, restless part of American Mythology that several people, before me, felt deep into their boots. Edward Hopper portrayed the frozen solitude of the American man (no matter how warm the colors he mixed on his palette, I found a frigid rigidity in its golden afternoon light). Haffner, as a pop, contemporary interpretation of today’s culture, is the artist of a running America: poetic, genuine, inventive, and so far from the digital highways of the new hype, to look desperately abandoned and beautiful.

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