Hakuna Painting

Hakuna: nothing, nobody nichts. Keiner (Kisuaheli)

The name was created to get anonymity.

Why stay anonymous if you have nothing to hide?

A reason for remaining without identification might be the wish, to keep up two different lives at the same time.

If part of the daily activities takes place in the light and under a certain control of social and official aspects some personal assets might not be suitable to be published. Not because it´s wrong, but because some of personal aspects might not fulfil public expectations. This is particularly true, if these expectations are related to the outcome of the activities such as outcome for patients.

I am convinced, that the outcome of spine surgery is related to the expectations of the patients. And part of the expectations is the relation to the doctor, which is coined by the personality of the doctor.

And at this point, the painting comes into the play. Painting as shown here is probably the most imaginable personal exhibitionism. Since we all are humans, we are not perfect and have bigger or smaller defaults and so has Hakuna. I considered it as advantage for all involved parties to stay anonymous as long as I was a spine surgeon - my former professional life - and a painter.

I decided to change to one life only and to dedicate my time to my family and to painting. Therefore there is no longer any need to stay anonymous.

Painting - a different way of communication.



If asked how to communicate, the most common answer would probably be: language, written and spoken. But there are many more options, one of them being painting. The exhibited pictures are glances of my past and present life, originally fixed with photos most of them taken by myself. That´s why they are most personal.

So why don´t you stay with photos?

Yes, I am painting "naturally". Still it represents a translation. I just used the "language" of shapes, colours and subjects - and my emotions - as carrier for communication. And because I would like the observer to understand my language, I paint things as they are - or as I see them. This process of communication and understanding is more real and more direct if no translator is necessary - as it is often the case in abstract painting.

Sometimes the pictures seem to be just a simple copy of the reality. But there are a lot of messages hidden in these images. 1. The original photo and the situation where and when it was shot. Many of the snap-shots are taken in highly emotional situations or at places which remained engraved in my memory. 2. The selection of the photos. As I was addicted to keep memories of my life and to "freeze" certain situations in pictures since I got my first simple camera with the age of 5 Years hundreds of photos are stored in boxes. More recent and old ones, silent testimonies of different periods of my life. The selection process which picture should be painted is unclear. I suddenly remember one particular photo - and paint it. Often I did not paint because I had no inspiration, which picture I should draw. 3. Size of the canvas and choice of material. Following no strict guidelines, I just follow my intuition certainly influencing the character and type of communication. 4. Colours. Many of the older photos are in black and white. The choice of colours is certainly dictated by the actual situation when the picture is painted. 5. Probably the most important: the memory of the "original" situation when the photo has been shot and the emotional re-interpretation of it. Often the activity of painting offers me a time journey back into the passed days of my life.

It would be an unbearable simplification if painting would only be declared as self contemplation. The motivation to communicate through pictures is far more complex than this. Certainly there are also many aspects involved which I am even not aware of. The only thing I know for certain: during the last years painting grew to an important part of my life. The desire to continue and to dedicate an important part of my time to painting will last as long as I physically able to do it.

Only recently I started experimenting with wood carving and sculpturing.
While I was caught by the idea of introducing the third dimension into the paintings (without being gable to find an acceptable solution), the work on wood was a real personal revelation. Suddenly I found myself with mostly the same or similar instruments and tools as in spine surgery (exception: chain saw!). The thinking in three dimensions – a essential prerequisite for a spine surgeon – helped me significantly to understand the rules of wood carving and sculpturing. The first results were shown in the exposition in 2016 and attracted considerable attention, which encouraged me to continue with both: sculpturing and painting.

Dieter Grob al. HAKUNA, November 2016


History (medical)
1949 born in Zurich
1975 Graduated in medicine, university of Zurich
1975 - 1983 Specialisation in Orthopaedic Surgery
1987 - 2008 Head of spine surgery, Schulthess Klinik Zürich
2008 - 2011 Senior consultant, Spine Surgery, Schulthess Klinik
1993 Venia Legendi (Privatdozent) University of Zurich
2000 Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery/University of Zurich
1997 - 2008 Several Presidencies of international spine Societies
2011 Retirement from medical activities

History (art)
1980 - 2004 occasional drawings (pencil, charcoal)
2004 installation of "HAKUNA"
2004 - 12 regular painting activities
2006 UBS Art Forum: Art Global. Kunst zwischen Inhalt und Standortmarketing
2012 Exhibition: "... e pure vive!" Galerie Manhatten, Zurich
2012 Exhibition: "water" Galerie Manhatten, Zurich
2012 UBS Art Forum: "Global Players - Wem gehört die Kunst?"
2013 Exhibition "Lebenszeichen", Galerie am Kapfsteig 31, Zürich
2014 UBS art forum: "Kunst digital: Sammeln in Zeiten von Big Data"
2014 seasonal exhibition: "Lanca". Ascona, Switzerland
2014 art exhibition: "cogito - ergo sum". Erlengut, Erlenbach, Switzerland
2016 „arte da Delea“ art exhibition, (28.29. May) Losone, TI
2016 Jubiläumsausstellung Erlengut (group-exhibition) Nov. 16

more Information on Wikipedia ( "Dieter Grob" )