Original title : Bradley Hart – In his bubble
A man of passions, Bradley Hart reconnected with art by choosing bubble wrap as his canvas. That may seem self-explanatory, but the reality is more complex. The career of an artist who is a product of his time.
Born and raised in Toronto, Bradley Hart has always been drawn to the arts. Although he has mixed feelings about his time at Thornton Hall, the private high school where he learned to draw by imitating the Renaissance masters, he does retain some memories that are still useful. “When I left Thornton Hall, I rejected art,” he admits. It was not until much later, after graduating from the University of Toronto and working for a time in real estate and bars, that he rediscovered his love of painting.
In 2008, he moved to New York City, where he held his first exhibitions, enjoyed his first successes, and discovered his medium. No one else had really seen the potential in bubble wrap. Primarily used for packaging, this product was originally designed as a wall covering. For Bradley Hart, it was a way to rediscover his true vocation.
Without using a paintbrush, he perfected a technique that combines drawing knowledge with technology. The process he has developed can take nearly a month to execute. After choosing his subject, he painstakingly fills 1800 to 2500 syringes with a variety of paint colours. The position of the colours is determined in advance using a computer algorithm designed especially for the task. As each bubble is injected with the appropriate colour, long drips of paint accumulate behind the plastic film.
Bradley Hart thus obtains two paintings: the first is highly pixelated, while the second is an impressionist reflection of the first, created by the built-up layers of paint. He believes that the two works complement one another and that placing them side by side symbolizes the complex process of passing on memories. “It’s a little like when we tell a story. The first version is very precise, but as we repeat the story, it becomes vaguer. The pixelated painting represents the fresh memory, while the second is a blurry version of the same subject. Together, the two paintings evoke the way we tell stories and remember them.”
The technique and subject matter produce aweinspiring final products with an astonishing variety of themes that often reference popular culture. Photos of Einstein and street scenes have become commonplace. However, Bradley Hart manages to give them substance and transcend cliché. Injecting paint takes on another meaning when associated with a portrait of Kurt Cobain.
Plastic film raises environmental issues when used for a landscape and speaks volumes about financial bubbles when paired with topics associated with money. The works, though simple at first sight, become complex and almost abstract when one understands the codes. Considering himself primarily a sculptor, the artist insists on the importance of viewing his paintings in a gallery and warns Internet users who swear only by the Web: “My paintings are often very large. On a computer, the size is reduced, which concentrates the pixels and leaves out the three-dimensional aspect.”
Our conversation has prompted Bradley Hart to reflect on his career. “When I left Thornton Hall, I rejected art and I understand why. I was forced to study techniques and, although I still use them, I now do things the way I want to, making what I like to make.” A fitting conclusion for an artist who has come full circle.