Davood Koochaki began to seriously pursue drawing at the age of sixty. Having retired from his job as an auto mechanic, he was encouraged by his son-in-law, a professional artist, to explore his budding interest in art. Koochaki’s hobby quickly evolved into a full-blown artistic practice, and his works, mostly drawn with graphite and colored pencil, became steadily bolder and more complex. Human-like figures and mysterious creatures developed from his initial marks on paper, and grew in both scale and intensity.
Koochaki works intuitively, allowing the compositions to evolve without a formal plan. According to the artist, “I try to draw beautifully, but this is the way it comes out. Maybe it has to do with my difficult past. I begin to draw a few lines, look at them, and then I see a figure coming that I can draw.” Despite the fluidity of form and sex among his figures, they all seem to respect Iran’s dress code for women and are covered by a hijab, chador, or burka. These elements of concealment are not completely successful and certain elements, primarily the male anatomy, often peak through revealing their true nature.
This visual game of hide-and-seek, cloak-and-dagger, or perhaps more appropriately show-and-tell is an essential element of Koochaki’s work. His figures are shrouded in dark layers of graphite. Through his drawings, Koochaki navigates the public and the private, striking a balance between what to hide and what to highlight, rendered in a visual language that is completely his own.
Davood Koochaki was born in 1939 in northern Iran. He began working at the age of seven but eventually taught himself to read and write. At the age of thirteen, he left his family for Tehran, where he was hired to help in a car repair workshop. His drawings were first exhibited in Tehran in 2008. Undercover is his second solo exhibition at Christian Berst Art Brut and his first in the United States.