Thursday, 2 May 2013

Critical Analysis: Emma Hack


“Peacock with Butterflies” by Emma Hack from her 2010 Exotic Mandala Collection

Emma Hack is an Adelaide Artist and has been working in art for the past 21 years. She is a diverse multimedia artist, skin illustrator, photographer and sculptor. I have chosen this piece because Emma Hack has used Peacocks in her work “Peacocks with Butterflies” and a huge part of my major is based around the beauty of Peacocks, their colours and their design lines. The blue-green colour in the Peacock feathers is a theme which I have continued throughout my entire works to connect them in some small way, to add interest, continuity and to visually enhance all of my pieces. Emma Hack is a dedicated and passionate artist for her craft. Her career has evolved from children’s face painting, hairdressing and make-up artist to body artist and visual artist of world acclaim.

“Peacock with Butterflies” is from the 2010 Exotic Mandala Collection. According to her website, “Exotic Mandala captures the beauty of art Nouveau inspired designs with butterflies placed on her muse.” ( 10.php) The focal point is in the circular swirl of the peacock in the centre of the Mandala. The blue and the greens of the Peacock draw your eyes into the painting further, with the bend of the Peacock’s neck finishing off the top or leading down to the circle in the round. The direction of the fans of feathers point in one direction, which leads the viewer back around and back up to the neck like arrows. The background is pale with only Emma Hack’s muse. The muse blends into the background with the Peacock painted over her in a continuous line and flow. The rest of the foreground is a vine-like pattern coiling around to create a linear pattern to complete the Mandala. The Peacock is definitely the most stand-out part of this work. There is very little colour in this work except for the Peacock.


The artwork is a circular background design into which Emma Hack’s models are camouflaged under her painting of the Peacock. The entire background is in pale shade (almost white), including the model. The Peacock is painted continuously over the top as if there wasn’t anyone there. The Peacock is painted in traditional Peacock blue and greens with darker feathery lines for the outlines and to create the feathers. The Mandala is a painting of body art onto a Mandala circle, to contain the design. Emma Hack is creating a three-dimensional piece through the model; without which the painting would simply be another two-dimensional piece.


In my opinion, the artwork expresses the idea of beauty, in particular, that of a male peacock. The ideas or message I think the artist is trying to express in this artwork is the purity and elegance of the peacock, as well as the beauty of the human female figure. The artwork portrays a female figure behind a beautiful, vibrant and exotic peacock, in which the model enhances this, giving it further depth and form. I believe the artwork is visually communicating the idea of beauty in all forms of nature (peacock) and human (model). I feel that the artwork defines the elegance of the peacock, and expresses the intensity of the colours through its composition.


My opinion of “Peacock with Butterflies” has changed from first glance. After reading about Emma Hack in the Adelaide ‘Sunday Mail’ and choosing to research her artwork for my journey, I have developed awareness for her techniques, style and meaning. In particular, this artwork has influenced and inspired my artwork (no. 2 and 12). The artwork has been well executed, as the composition is balanced, explicit and captures audience attention, due to its contemporary form and striking colours.  In particular, I like the technique used by Emma Hack, as the model’s body emerges from the Mandala composition, but also blends into the background design.  From first glance, I only saw a ‘pretty’ peacock, the faint shape of a model and some interesting lines, but now that I have analysed the work, I have more appreciation for the aesthetics of the piece. The aesthetics of the composition are found in the basic elements of art: the lines, shapes, colours, intensity, textures, tones and contrasts.


In critically analysing Emma Hack’s “Peacock’s with Butterflies”, I realised by combining three-dimensional and two-dimensional art in the one piece, it is possible to develop my artwork to a higher level. To develop a painting which would normally be two-dimensional, into three-dimensional, allowed me to develop a sculptural painting. After critically analysing this piece, I now have an appreciation for Emma Hack’s work, in particular for the inspiration I received for my artwork. This inspiration enabled me to challenge myself, and take my work to levels I never dreamed of.

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