The Philosophical Art of Chameleons: Body Paintings by Emma Hack

Artists have always enjoyed giving their own twist on reality to trigger the imagination and dreams of their public. But some artists even go further, by hacking reality, with a lot of wit. The word of hacking is especially indicated when talking of Australian creative mind Emma Hack, and not just for her surname… indeed, the Adelaide based artist is specializing in a type of painting that requires playing with illusions and life: body painting.

Her Wallpaper series proved that body art could compete with design and contemporary painting. The series of captures is genuinely embodying elegance, sensuality, yet breaking our notions of what elegance is, and how our senses could be fooled. By adding other elements, such as handmade settings and animals in her studio-based photography, Emma is playing with our perception of dimensions. Of course, Emma has made a name for herself by camouflaging models in wallpaper designs created by the late Florence Broadhurst. But soon, she decided to give the process a more ambitious twist. She started creating body painting that was bigger than life, with installations and spot on photography.

Her “Madame Hanoi” portrait in celebrity chef Nic Watts’s restaurant of the same name in Adelaide is the largest body art mural in the world, with 8 meters in height. She also collaborated with popular musician Gotye for the award-winning video of his song « Somebody That I Used to Know » as well as with the West Australian Ballet. So, by choosing this special type of painting, Emma Hack demonstrates that art is always in motion, and that we can physically move its limits. But she is also playing with our philosophy and asking an important question: are we the creators and the beholders, or are we just part of a much bigger piece of art?

Emma Hack



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