Eerie Partial Abstracts: Art by Mary Hayes

A painting of mysterious figures in darknessAscent, watercolor

Artist Mary Hayes creates eerie partial abstracts that delve into the history and implications of portraiture. Recently, Mary has been using her practice to explore paintings by the old masters, combining these aesthetics with pop culture elements.

A painting of Donald Trump with a mocking crown and wingsMacGuffin #6, watercolor and imitation gold leaf


I really enjoy the works in Mary’s recent series The End of the World. The two parts (thus far) of the series focus on tangibly different themes related to “the end of the world,” but the cohesiveness of the concepts and the artist’s style help to tie the works together under one umbrella. In Part I, magical and pseudo-religious imagery suggests that the “end” in question may be more esoteric in nature, while deliberately unflattering portraits of politicians in Part II serve to ground the threat in terrifying reality.

The front page of Mary Hayes' art websiteThe front page of Mary's art website


Hayes’ painting seem to come alive in her Personages Réinventées series – I really appreciate the deep purple and blue hues that comprise the backgrounds in many of these works. Figures in period dress float in deep shadows, seemingly detached from historical context and made all the more dramatic and striking for it.

A painting of several classical figures suspended in darknessSpace Meninas, watercolor

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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