Haley Hasler in Feb 2013 American Art Collector”Balancing act”

Haley Hasler in Feb 2013 American Art Collector”Balancing act”

In between taking her kids to school and to soccer practice and writing a thank you note to a teacher — and painting — Haley Hasler sat down to talk.

When asked about using herself as a model and the simple restrictions of only being able to look at herself in the mirror from a certain angle and still be able to paint, she said, “What started as a practical situation — the need for a model — has turned into a very important aspect of my work: the self-portrait. That is the means by which I can access the personal within the archetypal/historical narrative. The self-portrait places restrictions on the variety of poses, as does the ‘portrait’ genre: these seeming limitations open up the psychological realm that is important to me, so I consent to work within these limitations… The portrait — indeed the self-portrait — seems to me to hold much more potential for exploration of the contemporary psyche in the current day and age. I am interested in the representation of the self, and how the outer and inner worlds collide. Painting a self-portrait, I can easily access questions of vision, viewpoint, artifice, reality, subject/object, viewer/beholder, creator/creation, interior/exterior, illusion/surface: these questions seem inherent in the medium.”

Portrait as an Allegory of Fidelity was inspired by a fresco at Norton Simon Museum by Francesco di Giorgio Martini. A figure stands on a dog, a symbol of fidelity (from the Latin fides — thus “Fido” for you dog lovers). The figures gaze at each other in trust and the figure points her finger to her ultimate trust in God. The simplicity of that relationship is no longer so simple.

When asked if her paintings ever tell her to do something when she is working on them she said, “The answer is emphatically ‘Yes!’ The initial ideas are sparked by an art historical reference, or by a color combination I am interested in playing with, or sometimes by a narrative idea — to give another example of this last, the notion that I have unexpectedly become a ‘soccer mom’ myself. (Identity, role-playing, exterior persona) I set out with a vague idea—say, that I will paint myself as a soccer mom — and hopefully the painting tells me what to do.”

Hasler’s paintings are layered with obvious references to daily life and to less obvious “contemporary equivalents for symbols from the past that don’t work anymore.”

Oscar Wilde wrote, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” When the artist is the sitter, Hasler adds, “Here is the exterior as seen by the interior… While the self-portrait implies that the artist is showing us the truth, a representation of the exterior in disguise conveys the impossibility and doubleness of this endeavor.”

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