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Eric Haacht: More than the Usual Portraits

Portraiture extends back as far as art is traced to civilization; developed society needing to emphasize the subjects that  have made some impact on its direction. And what better way to get at the subject than through their faces, faces as portals of signification. But don’t rely on that glint in the eye or the composure of lips and brows to indicate an interior quality of the individual with Eric Haacht’s portraits. Rough gauche smears oscillate, fuzzy dark tones cloud, brilliant color warps fold and drip – all slightly conforming to the outline of a jawbone and the arch of a hairline to allude to the head extending from shoulders and bust.

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Some of Haacht’s portraits include the face holes, intentionally playing on the gravity of their significance; eyes and nostrils violent eddies in flushing swells, mouths crude blotches gaping. Others take cue from expressionist use of color and move Haacht’s composition from abstraction of form to symbolic representation; gyroscopic rainbow tangles on the brow, orange shards exploding from temples, blue hues swathing entirely.

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The meaning is apparent in exchange with typical associations. A question still remains how far Haacht is taking his work form faciality. Distortion and obfuscation seem to be a movement away from the form, but the resonance of the facial features still functions and the viewer must draw the obvious conclusion. While such a broad range of mode and technique is intact, Haacht maintains concurrent with portraiture in choice of his subjects, assuming from some of the titles (some had no titles or titles that don’t directly refer to a particular personage), that these subjects hold some stature in society. One hint is the suit and tie motif almost universal in the portraits. Portraiture was almost exclusively a social class related form until the modern era, (as was most art). I don’t expect that Rupert Murdoch commissioned Haacht for his portrait but choosing him as a subject instills some kind of historical rationale. Commentary or not, the paintings provoke thought in more than usual avenues.

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eric haacht artist painting


-Howard Brad Halverson

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