There are many forms of art in the world, but they all boil down to three categories.The first is pleasing artwork, and this exists simply for our pleasure and entertainment. It is well-made, attractive, and usually vapid and without content. It is purely aesthetic, and all is well.
The second kind of artwork is, to be blunt, total crap. This is formed when an artist with no technical ability is relying entirely on their own emotions, and somehow expects their audience to resonate with these impossibly uncommunicative ideas so that they may ride the sails of whatever – it’s art. This is a waste of the materials used to make it, and we move on.
The third, and rarer kind of artwork, is more complicated. This is created by an artist that combines ability with emotion and produces what I like to consider as ‘true art’. This type is probably my favourite, and yet I like reviewing it the least. It is artwork that is lovely, but for hideous reasons. When the beauty of the physical piece is matched or even overshadowed by the message it relays.
It is also why most of the work we consider to be classic masterpieces usually features a dead guy.
Sometimes I’m asked to review gorgeous art pieces that soothe and delight me, sometimes I’m asked to review utterly pointless pieces, and sometimes I’m asked to review pieces that cast a horrible raincloud and leave me sulking into a bag of jelly beans for the rest of the day.
Today is the latter.
Caitlin Hackett is a self-employed traditional artist. She was educated at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, specialising in drawing, and graduated in 2009 with a BFA. Since then she’s appeared in galleries, interviews, sold prints online and has illustrated for Andrew Lang, published by the illustrious Folio books company. That’s right – books so wonderful they won’t actually let you buy them.
Caitlin’s speciality is easily apparent, as animals appear in the vast majority of her works. Even as a child she had a passion for nature, so much so that she initially intended to become a wildlife biologist. It wasn’t until attending an art show by Walton Ford that she considered being a professional artist. Walton Ford, whose exceptional wildlife pieces feature detailed textures and unrivalled natural ferocity, remains an inspiration to Caitlin Hackett, as is evident in her intricate, traditional works today.
Caitlin’s art is exceptionally well worked, technically brilliant, ingeniously original, stunningly beautiful and…unsettling. Her artwork is, to put it simply, painful to look at. She is one of those rare artists that actually succeed in using their profession as a means to communicate a message. She has an ideology and transmits this through every subtle line and detail in her pieces.
“In my work I attempt to capture the often volatile human-animal relationship as well as a reflection of my own sorrow over the loss of wild species and wild places.
I am faced with the fact that we live in a planet in decline, where nearly every natural ecosystem in the world is withering to dust. Human kind has created a planet of refugees; animals forced to flee ever farther from the insatiable encroachment of urban development, victims of a war for space which they cannot hope to win. Like the gods of so many myths we humans have warped the world into our own image, and it is this often frightening image I hope to reflect in my work.”
Though her artwork is undeniably beautiful, possessing a luxurious calibre which sets her apart from the majority of everyday artists, it is the apparent ease at which it provokes reflection and consideration that makes it truly fascinating. Not simply for appreciating, and certainly not designed only to please, Caitlin’s art has a fundamental agenda that renders your aesthetic enjoyment as secondary.
Viewing her work bruises my ego. It makes me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel dirty, selfish, and ugly, but above all that, it settles in me with a sense of uncomfortable but familiar reality. Looking at her work, I know that I am all of those things and I am sure of my place in the world.
“I hope to remind those who view my artwork that we too are animals, embedded in this fragile world even as we poison it.”