David Hleap was born in Russia in 1930 and prior to WWII, emigrated together with his parents and younger sister, to Colombia, South America when he was 5. He was raised in Cali, Colombia and put himself through Medical School by working as a Medical Illustrator. His early works were published in various medical books and journals, and thus began his love and passion for both professions: Medicine and Art. Although a brilliant Doctor, some say his true love was art. He applied art in everything he did in life including medicine.
In the coastal town of Barranquilla, Colombia, Hleap became a well respected and accomplished doctor. One of his passions in life was charitable work offering his medical services and prescriptions free of charge to the local peoples of poor rural towns of Colombia, like La Guahira & Poponte. He also served as the 1st President of the Kiwanis Club of Colombia for many years.
When he entered a room you were drawn to his presence, he made you feel important and special with his big heart & larger than life presence along with his humorous and upbeat character. He seemed to know a lot about everything, self-taught in many disciplines, with a photographic memory along with an impressively genius and creative mind.
In 1972 he immigrated to Sandy Springs, Georgia with his wife and 4 kids in search of the “American Dream.” He became the 1st full-time Medical Doctor to the town of Cumming, GA,where he saved many lives and built many friendships, while practicing General Medicine, Surgery and Gynecology for over 30 years, until he retired to Florida in 2004.
His patients marveled that his office on Mary Alice Parkway in Cumming was not only a medical building, but also a museum of art, with over 200 paintings displayed throughout the patient rooms. Hleap did not like to rush his patients and often sent them home with a personal drawing of their organs to study and help them heal. Hleap was a strong believer in the power of the mind for healing, and often used visual imagery and hypnotherapy on his patients. As a result, his surgery patients often benefited from a faster than average recovery rate. He was ahead of his time with a Holistic (whole person) approach.
Hleap used over 10 mediums in his artistic impression including Oils, Acrylics, Watercolors, Pen & Ink, and Miniature Wood Carvings, and is most remembered for his impressionistic and cubist styles and mastery of water and reflections. One of his favorite works was the “Orchestra” where he recreated the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra by assembling 105 miniature wood carvings, each one depicting a different musician and instrument in the Orchestra. The Orchestra measured approximately 5 feet in circumference and was a true masterpiece. It was displayed in various cities and in 1987 won the “Best of Show” award in San Antonio at the juried competition conducted by The American Physicians Art Association (APAA), to which Hleap was a member. Hleap won 10 “First Place” and 2 “Best of Show” awards in juried competitions, and exhibited his paintings in various cities including New York, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio and Baltimore.
It is estimated that Hleap produced over 3,000 pieces of art in his lifetime. He was well known for making a painting out of a memory and pleasantly surprised many people with his gift of a painting depicting a portrait of themselves or recent casual encounter or place of interest they shared together. Hleap did not like to sell his art; he preferred to give it away. His art appears in many homes around the world, including South America, the Caribbean and Europe.
Hleap suffered from Type 2 Diabetes the second half of his life and in the late 1990’s lost over 80% of his vision. Nonetheless, he continued to paint until 2005, and ironically in his later years his mastery of colors improved. It is believed that this came about because Hleap needed to intensify the colors in his art in order for himself to better see what he was drawing. He died in Florida in 2007 from complications of Diabetes.
The “Art Wall” at FuegoMundo displays a few of his works as a tribute to his name, and as a kick-off to our rotating local South American artist exhibit at FuegoMundo.
Masha Hleap-Hershkovitz ~ 2011