"Confessions on a Canvas" opens on 1 December with over 16 works by David Sheldon Horwitz at his own gallery in a beautiful Victorian home at 10 Leeuwenhof Road in Higgovale from 4:30pm.
Born in East London in 1970 David was the second child of an orthodox Jewish family. He showed artistic talent at an early age and spent his afternoons studying speech and drama, art, ceramics and Hebrew. By his early teens it was clear that he was exceptionally talented and at age 12 he exhibited a collection of work that won him an award for the most promising artist specifically for a piece entitled "Spiders" executed entirely in pointillism.At seventeen David's parents were diagnosed with chronic cancer and died within eight months of each other. He expressed his pain through his art. Being inspired by Picasso and a very clear identity of himself, David received top marks for art in his matric year. His final piece was a triptych self-portrait portraying his homosexuality in dark blues. Searching for love and connection in the arms of many men, David became destructive and promiscuous. In 1990, after travelling Europe, America and Canada, he enrolled at the University of Cape Town and pursued a BA degree but shortly before his mid-term examinations he became weak and severely ill. Less than two years after his mother's death he was tested HIV positive.
His immunity and blood count were dangerously low and his prognosis was a mere five years. David plunged into darkness and lived with shame, disgust and self-loathing. He neglected his art and everything that was pivotal to who he was. Fighting for his life, he became obsessed with nutrition, healing herbs and boosting his immune system.
In 1997 he began painting and writing as a form of release but his work was rare and unoriginal. In a quest for inspiration and direction he enrolled at the Ruth Prowse School of Art but soon lost interest. Later that year he sold three pieces and then in 1998 a triptych inspired by 60's pop art entitled "Scorpio, Virgo, Taurus" was photographed for Wallpaper magazine. Despite his potential he became creatively blocked and focussed his life energy on his health and spirituality. In 2003 David was finally diagnosed with full blown AIDS.
Suffering from severe depression and social withdrawal he began therapy with an Israeli spiritual healer and guide. He became interested in reiki and energy healing and the infinite wisdom of the Kabbalah. He then met a fellow contemporary artist who was his strongest inspiration yet and became his muse. David says "she taught me to accept every creative output as a perfect expression of the self". Through his guided spiritual journey and his innately peaceful art he learnt to embrace and love all that he is, accepting truth and healing as his only salvation.
Besides the obvious inspiration from his life David is also inspired by music, specifically Madonna, fashion, décor and design and the 1980's. David's work adorns many local and international spaces and only when you speak to him about his pieces do you discover the stirring background to his art – everything is reflective of situations, emotions and feelings at the time of painting and tells a story. The opening of his own gallery and the unveiling of his first solo exhibition - appropriately titled "Confessions on a Canvas" - are both just the beginnings of David's next exciting journey as he plans to write and compile a book, pursue his passion for singing and continue to create beautiful pieces of art. David would also like to follow up this exhibition with works by other HIV positive artists.
David has spent almost all 16 years of his HIV positive life off drugs but for the last year has been on anti-retrovirals. He no longer has full blown AIDS.