When we unwrap a work of art from a gallery, it is often covered in something to protect it. Most things in our world come this way; plastic covering is a functional and disposable part of our daily lives. Bubble wrap, in particular, is used to protect fragile items, offering its' own self-destruction through popping as a preferable fate over any damage to the enclosed object. Bradley Hart, a burgeoning New York powerhouse in modern art, has flipped that bubble wrap's conventional usage on its' head, and the worthless has once again been made priceless through the lens of "Art".
Hart's bubble wrap injections are a brilliant and boggling combination of conceptualism, pointillism, technology, innovation, Impressionism, experimentation, draftsmanship and supreme vision. There are as many layers to his philosophy as there are bubbles in his portraits (almost), and complete appreciation of the artwork requires an appreciation of the mind that conceived it.
If you hadn't read the above description and gleaned some idea of what Hart's work is composed of, you may have initially thought that the above picture of the tragic, rock legend Kurt Cobain was a poorly pixelated photograph, perhaps from some cheap camera back in the '90's when the musician was still rocking out against the establishment.
You would be right about the pixelated quality, but not the medium. This portrait is composed of the thousands of individual air pockets on a large sheet of bubble wrap. Each individual bubble is injected with paint using tools and techniques invented and perfected by Hart. This time-sensitive process is meticulous, exhausting, and complicated; remember, bubble wrap may be used to protect objects, but when filled with huge amounts of paint spread over more than 25,000 bubbles, the "canvas" becomes a safety hazard to itself.
Geminio Politi (In Progress)
Although the exact details behind the tools and procedures is a well-guarded secret in the Hart Art Camp, he is happy to expound upon the complex theories behind his art. Plastic, as you may know, is derived from crude oil, and has thousands of applications in society. It is mass produced, unoriginal, and often overlooked. Bubble wrap is much the same, although its' original purpose was actually as a form of wallpaper.
Hart plays with these ideas of form, function, and repetition by creating one-of-a-kind masterworks within a material that traditionally has no identity. Plastic wrap is meant to protect, and art is often created to memorialize an idea. If you can get past the heady symbolism, Hart is protecting the memory of celebrities, places, and even his personal friends in a delicate bubble that reflects the fragility of life.
Beyond that, his method of injecting ink into the bubbles resonates on deeper levels as well. The delicate procedure resembles Pointillism of the late 19th Century, at a drastically reduced rate, instead of stabbing pencil or paintbrush tips on a forgiving canvas, Hart must inject thousands of individual bubbles to create a similar effect. If you look closely, you can see that the bubbles are not huge swaths of uniform color. As with the Pointillism movement, huge amounts of different colors are intricately juxtaposed to trick our eye into identifying it as reality.
The "injection" goes even further in symbolism when you think of certain popular culture icons, like Kurt Cobain or Amy Winehouse, who battled addiction to drugs, and who, at times, claimed that their art benefitted from their abuse. They injected one type of drug to create art, Hart injects paint into art to create an image of him. Hart's style is far from whimsical or novel, it is a deeply thought out and visionary undertaking.
He doesn't limit himself to portraiture; landscapes like the one above are equally evocative and challenging, and it is stunningly recognizable, to those who have visited Amsterdam, of course. There is a final element to his work that I find the most interesting. In his creative process, ink leaks out of the back of the bubble as air replaces it inside, and when thousands of leaking bubbles are allowed to merge and flow from the backs of a photorealistic image, a secondary image is made. This derivative piece is called an impression, and as you might expect, they look a great deal like an Impressionistic version of the original piece.
The art literally bleeds out another work of art, which can be separated from the original, and cut to size. The cuttings aren't wasted either, and Hart saves this tertiary level of the art for abstract pieces that combine the artistic detritus of multiple projects. For a product like plastic bubble wrap that so commonly connotes waste and mass production, the art that is derived from it is decidedly recyclable.
Steve Jobs (Impression)
Kurt Cobain (Impression)
Perhaps bubble wrap injected pointillism is a bit too far out to hang on your walls, but the concept is fascinatingly unique, and Bradley Hart has certainly cornered the market in terms of bubble wrap brilliance. To check out the complete body of his work, read more in-depth essays about his style, or purchase some of his spectacular pieces, visit his website!
Ready for Your Next Injection? Read more of my latest favorites that make their Art Outside the Lines.
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