In late 2007, the urge to express, the necessity to create a visual record, came rushing forward into Steve Haweeli's life. The compulsion to paint came with hesitation and fear. He labored in his subterranean studio and told no one.
Haweeli's paintings have been a process of excavation — revealing layer upon layer of hidden meaning through the medium of paint. These paintings are informed by his various incarnations - gravedigger, traveler, linguist, actor, seminarian, volunteer, barman, wordsmith and entrepreneur - thus contributing to his particular vision of the mosaic of our experience here; often the symbol of the cross permeates the visual dialog within. These creations express the alchemy of fury and freedom he continues to unearth in himself. The excavation continues.
His work successfully debuted at the monthly shows at Karyn Mannix Contemporary (former Hampton Road Gallery) in Southampton as part of the 2009-2010 Artist's Collective. As well, he is a regular contributor to group shows at Ashawagh Hall and Guild Hall in East Hampton. His several solo shows include those at the Outeast Gallery in Montauk, NY, Hamilton College in Clinton, NY and the Donald Gallery in Dobbs Ferry, NY. He had a successful Manhattan debut at the Affordable Art Fair New York City in Spring 2012. His works are now part of numerous private collections.
I paint because I must. I didn’t set out to become an artist; my art found me. My goal is to express that raw place where the whispers live. When I paint, I exhale: the knot, the joy, and the hurt. I heal. I give back.
My backgrounds are brush-applied acrylic foundations. My two favorite tools are a small flexible metal palette knife and a cement trowel that I use to spread bold, wide “planks” of paint. I also use nails, used (stiff) brushes and wooden paint-stirrers to make my mark. I like cutting oil paints with a drying agent, which gives the paint less viscosity, which in turn provides an unplanned slash or streak. There are usually several layers to my work. Through the layers, my excavating is done.
I am moved by two subjects: salt water and crosses. I conjure sunsets across the bay, briny odors, reflections, drops and splashes - and ever-changing shades of blue. There’s the violence and unpredictability of surf, as well as tranquil seas. As for the cross, it’s an ancient symbol. It appeared on Indian cave walls and in Egyptian tombs long before the birth of Christ. I like its geometry and balance: horizontal-vertical; positive-negative; death-resurrection. In Christianity, there are over 50 symbols for the cross. In my work, I most often use the Greek (+) and Latin (†) crosses as well as (X), the cross of St. Andrew.
I start with a scheme and then the work takes the plan in its own direction.