Kyle Hackett (b. Still Pond, MD) earned his MFA in Painting from the Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and his BFA in Fine Arts, as a McNair Scholar from the University of Delaware. His paintings explore race, class and social standing through approaches to self-representation and the constructed image.
Hackett has completed residencies including: The League Residency in NY as recipient of the Ruth Katzman Scholarship, Contemporary Artists Center, NY and Vermont Studio Center, where he was the recipient of the Civil Society Institute Fellowship. Hackett has received numerous honors and awards, including Best in Show at the 2014 Bethesda Painting Awards Exhibition and Best in Show at the 2015 Regional Juried Biennial at Rehoboth Arts League. His work has been featured and written about in New American Paintings, the Washington Post, and distinguished as "Ten Memorable Paintings of 2014" in the Huffington Post. He was a semifinalist in the 2016 and 2019 BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In 2019 Hackett received, A Mayoral Salute, for his solo exhibition and artist talk, Rate of Contingency at Baltimore City Hall Gallery. Hackett's work is represented by Goya Contemporary Gallery (Baltimore, MD) and notably collected by Ethan Cohen New York (New York, NY), University Museums at University of Delaware (Newark, DE), Wangechi Mutu Studio (Brooklyn, NY) and the Trawick Foundation (Bethesda, MD).
Manipulating the authority of representational portraiture, my work deconstructs historical ideas of secure identity and fixed-painting techniques through subtexts of the staged, self-aware portrait. I highlight contingencies between self and the constructed image as I attempt to clarify my contemporary concerns about race, class and social standing. Often posing as sitters from precarious nineteenth-and twentieth-century modes of portrayal, my paintings are rooted in the need for empathy and a historical desire for connection and feeling. A related body of work involves “vanitas” still life paintings created from discarded reference photographs of self-portraits that were once ruled out. This work evolved into crumpling printed media that featured reproductions of my staged portrait paintings. I consider how elements of our own identities are often nested inside each other -- meaning can be framed by the seen and unseen or preoccupied by a material space.
Using academic multilayered painting approaches, I unpack the technical and social framework created by, but not limited to art-historical traditions. I am interested in how relationships between underpainting vs. overpainting can animate conflict beneath formality. I explore provisional forms of self-representation whereby in order to process the image means to slow down the view, suspend judgement and get inside its surface. By emphasizing conflicts between the inner and the outer, I hope to foster new realities and new ways of being understood as not brown or white, wealthy or poor, but human. Often-acknowledging classical method's incapacities for telling the truth, I stress ideas of vulnerability, false glamorization and anxiety of reconciling the past with the present.