"Portrait Dreaming of Family Vacation" 2010 oil on canvas 46 x 52
"Portrait as an Allegory of Fidelity" 2010 oil on canvas
"Portrait as a Lady Serving a Meal" 2008 oil on canvas 48 x 36
"Winter Madonna" 2009
"Portrait as Saint Casilde" 2009 oil on canvas 46 x 32
I can't, off the top of my head, think of another painter who has made self portrait and autobiography so completely the entire body of their work. The effect is ultimately much more than any individual painting. Each individual piece is certainly complete in it's own way, and some of them are so full of wit and passion that they need no further context to establish them as exceptional paintings. But what makes Haley Hasler's work truly extraordinary is something we can only glimpse a part of now. Because it is not complete. She is in the midst or recording her life in a peculiarly unique and revealing idiom. While a tremendous amount of factual details are conveyed in her realist execution, much more is revealed in a kind of manic fantasy life, a blend of surrealism and allegory, not removed from reality but constantly echoing and reinforcing it. Not everything here is personal. Much of it is cultural, historical or in some other fashion external to her private life. Yet all of these elements are still very much a part of her. They are the flotsam and jetsam of life in the context of culture. She is intentionally toying with the idea of autobiography, interposing and interchanging inner imaginings with exterior realities. One marked example of this is that, while the paintings at first seem very personal and revealing, in every single one of them, her face wears same expression; one of slightly bemused observation. Observation of us, as it seems. Clearly this is the expression she makes while simultaneously painting and staring into a mirror. But it has the effect of turning her carnival chaos imaginings into something like a challenge, a mirror out of which her face stares back at us: "Look at your own life..." her expression seems to say. "You think this is crazy? Just take a good long look..."
Check out her website: haleyhasler.com
You can see some older images, which is really worthwhile to get a feel for the long term project her work has become, at alpha gallery.
thanks to artist Benjamin Rogers for the heads up.