In 2000, Hunt Rettig had a dream about a work of art that changed his life. Despite not having made art since he was a child, Rettig recognized the artwork as his own and felt immediately compelled to recreate his vision. In that moment and in the months that followed, Rettig’s life calling as an artist gradually crystalized.
“You can spend so long searching for something unknown,” Rettig says, “until all of a sudden it’s staring at you and you’re thinking, Of course this is where I was meant to go.” Ever since he first brought his dream to life, Rettig has been committed to making art and challenging his own creative boundaries in “an endless game of tweaking, refining, minimizing, expanding, stretching, holding, throwing, blowing, blinking, smiling, ranting.”
Rettig’s three-dimensional, mixed media assemblages are startlingly unique. This achievement is largely rooted in the unexpected combinations of materials he uses, which include polyester film, synthetic rubber, plastic, wood, silicone, metal nuts and bolts, and acrylic paints. Because his media dictates so much of his process, he has found himself on a continual quest for new materials and novel combinations of materials to communicate his vision. The introduction of new elements also allows Rettig to subvert stasis with respect to both his process and aesthetic.
In addition to the materials’ inherent properties, Rettig’s own sensibilities and personal history also find expression in the general look of his finished pieces. As a beginning artist Rettig was drawn to contorting the interior polyester film—which finds natural expression in looping, circular shapes—into biomorphic forms. His inclination for the organic, the cellular, the sensual, and the bodily is unsurprising given his love for the natural world and its place in his daily life. He has since explored these motifs deeply and comprehensively, and yet each work presents unfailingly original results. With respect to his artistic vision, Rettig explains:
“Within my terrain I see cross sections of cross sections, unnatural confluences, unnavigable borders, unrestricted constriction and breath-like expansion. Especially with plantlike forms I see what I can best describe as the invisibly visible, out of reach, out of context, infinitely reproducing, raised round. And then on occasion I imagine how bits and pieces of these biomorphic forms mesh together and produce landscapes unnatural yet natural at the same time. The process is a slow unfurling, like a fern.”
Just like nature, Rettig’s art exists both in between and on the edge. Nature, for example, is of this earth and yet its sublime, mystifying powers often render it otherworldly. Part of Rettig’s mission is to harness these paradoxes and inexplicable qualities, as demonstrated by his works’ preternatural luminosity and largely indecipherable constructions.
The liminality “captured” by the art is further realized through Rettig’s attempt to make pieces that are reminiscent of one other while nevertheless housing different imagery. His works can all be viewed through the same kaleidoscope, yet each marks a different degree on the kaleidoscope’s 360 degrees of possible rotation. With one turn, something wholly new and yet wholly indebted to its predecessor is brought forth. Rettig keeps turning, pushing, and experimenting to see what is next.
A resident of Aspen, Colorado, Hunt Rettig was born in El Paso, Texas in 1968. Rettig has exhibited across the United States, including at the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; the David Weinberg Gallery, Chicago; and the Center for the Visual Arts, Denton, TX.