“the gaze,” or rather, the way we look at a subject, and how a subject looks
back at us, remains one of the most intriguing ways to understand an artwork’
narrative. The Mona Lisa
’s enigmatic, direct gaze at the viewer and Vermeer’s
lonely, diverted eyes have captivated art historians for centuries, giving
insight into psychology and social relationships in eras past.
All of Haley Hasler
’s powerful self-portraits
contain the same quirky yet confrontational gaze in vibrant scenes that explore
her role as a mother and a provider. Works like Portrait as Sunday Brunch
both humor and a sense of honesty; she carries a live chicken in one hand and
donuts in another, while still lifes of food adorn her dress down to the floor.
Her three daughters’ eyes are equally meaningful in their disagreement with one
another. One daughter looks up at Hasler, one looks to the floor, and one looks
out toward viewers.
’s paintings capture both a male and female gaze in works
like The Lovers
, where even with closed eyes, two faces are angled
toward and engaged with one another. He depicts intimacy and sensuality in
every pairing, including in situations where the man appears to be watching his
unknowing female counterpart from behind (in The Guard Dog
of the Day
, for instance).
more somber, introspective approach to her work, Katie O’Hagan
paints self-portraits in which
her gaze unmistakably reveals sad, lonely contemplation. She stares coldly in a
mirror while cutting her hair from its roots in Reflection
decisively, she looks toward soft window light, in Listen
, with concern
and uneasiness. In Suspension
, she looks upward while lying down in bed.
Maybe she’s hopeful, or maybe she’s feeling the weight of the ceiling above
her. No matter the case, one cannot look away.