Spotlight : Caleb Hahne
In a small studio space tucked away in the Denver neighborhood of Five Points, contemporary artist Caleb Hahne surrounds himself by his most recent works and treasured belongings. We talked about his thoughts on the Denver art scene, his creative process, and what he’s passionate about outside his artistic practice.
1. What are your thoughts on art school?
For me, art school ended up being about learning what I didn't want to do. At first I went for illustration and wanted to be a comic book artist, but I quickly realized how uninteresting that Idea was to me. School does a lot of things for a lot of people, but I feel like such a small percentage of people keep making work once they graduate.
2. Describe your creative process.
It varies. Sometimes I make paintings based off of drawings I make and sometimes I kind of just start throwing things together. I'd say that I'm mostly reactionary though, it’s like playing chess, everything is a modifier, and every move is made in conversation with its previous move. It’s like a dance.
3. You always use interesting color palettes in your work. I'm noticing a lot more blue. Is there a story behind that?
I’m really trying to push my palette and learn more about color. Blue has always been in my work, but over the past year or so I've really grown deeper into my obsession. There’s a certain universality with the color blue. The way our atmosphere is built up is actually dependent on the darkness of empty space behind it. Maggie Nelson writes “The color of any planetary atmosphere viewed against the black of space and illuminated by a sun-like star will also be blue. In which case, blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire” with this being said, in all the other universes, there are people or things, existing under the same blue sky.
4. Your art leaves a lot of room open for interpretation, is this an objective of yours?
Yeah, totally, I'm really interested in collecting moments from experiences or ideas and having them collide on one plane. I typically use these Greco Roman busts as vehicles for those ideas, or for contemplation because of their ambiguity. They're kinda like aliens, people, but not in the most relatable way.
5. Today, a lot of an artist's success can be measured through social media and an extensive CV. How do you measure success?
This is true. Lately, my ideas of success have really changed. There are a lot of things that I want out of my practice, but most of all, my success is measured by my mental and physical health. I would love to continue facilitating my creative lifestyle through my practice and projects, but none of that matters if I'm unhappy or unhealthy.
6. How would you describe the art scene here in Denver?
I think it’s changing, but to be honest, it could be a bit more inclusive, I also wouldn't mind seeing more challenging work. I think Black Cube Nomadic Museum does this the best, constantly pushing the envelope for art and artists. I also think it would benefit our scene if we built more relationships with artists and galleries outside of Denver.
7. Outside of your artistic practice, what are some things you take pride in doing?
I love to box. Boxing is one of the most complex, attention-grabbing, dances I've ever started in my life. It’s deeper than this surface level idea of competition and violence. It’s poetic, it takes mental fortitude, patience, confidence and respect. There's a language that occurs between painting and boxing that I'm still exploring, but I’ve really enjoyed the journey. I’m also an avid meditator. It’s really changed my perspective on life and the way that I evaluate my thoughts and feelings. Making peace with my issues, not combating them. The idea of fighting the issues you have creates conflict in the mind and body, changing your relationship with them, leads you to peace, which allows me to create work from an honest place.
8. What are some important lessons you've learned in your career?
Everything takes time, I don’t want to be in a weird rat race to the top of a constantly changing art world. Be patient, trust the process, work hard, live your life.
Check out more of Caleb's work here: calebhahne.com
Follow Caleb on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/calebhahne/