Love Letter to Carlson Hatton

Carlson Hatton, Back in the Barn, 2021.

Every time I encounter Carlson Hatton’s work, I come away with distinct sensory experiences of each artwork’s components: paint, shadows, shapes, and objects—human or otherwise. A barrage of images, whether figures or scenes from his paintings, appear in my mind like past movies or dreams, to finalize his confluence of art and its impact.

Hatton’s work represents a piece of a story that connects people, places, and ripples in time on canvas, yet the relationships between images never fully emerge. Hatton uses a trompe l’oeil effect in his work, letting viewers follow shifting perspective planes. The illusion would be unsettling if the work was not so beautiful. For instance, in Back in the Barn (2021), the potato-rock-objects sit on, float on, or partially submerge into the blue ground throughout the picture. Between the horse’s belly, the fore- and middle ground flatten and compress space: the blue ground full of odd objects appears to come forward, complicating whether it is ground at all. With so much going on, my sight wanders like the humanoid figures in this painting. In earlier works, observation clung more to Hatton’s merging of mixed media and painterly collage with digital and graphic elements, denoting art genres, time, and space as an underlying, yet disjointed communication. 

In his most recent paintings (2021–2022), art history connections bounce between pop art and ancient hieroglyphics along with recognizable imagery of a horse, skillfully painted to appear as fleeting as a digital video clip. While most figures on the canvas converse with each other, two female figures in the piece seem to observe us, the viewers. This symmetry Hatton creates between fields, images, colors, and shapes moves me to recognize our universe as forever unique in parts that fit together as one. For me, the energy within Hatton’s art and its way of reflecting human life creates a steady, ever-present pace.

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