Brad Novak is an urban artist whose work sits sharply at the nexus between fine art and street art. Under the moniker 'New Blood Pop', or 'NBP76', his one-of-a-kind, hand-collaged and stencil-spray-painted works involve the layering of popular imagery.
Whilst living in London in the early 2000s the urban and street art scenes greatly influenced Novak's work. Additionally Richard Hamilton's manifesto on Pop Art provided inspiration. In the letter written to Peter and Alison Smithson in January 1957, Hamilton, a British artist, defined the different characteristics of pop art - describing it as "transient, glamorous, expendable, sexy, and popular". The frivolity of these terms forms the basis for Novak's artistic exploration. Novak, however, combined his love for street and pop art to create his urban series - the self-titled 'New Blood Pop'.
Novak uses popular culture, specifically the depiction of celebrities from the hyper-inflated world of American stardom. Icons such as Harrison Ford and Marilyn Monroe inhabit his creations. Their iconography is underpinned by the use of repetitive images of fellow superstars, such as Carrie Fisher and Christopher Reeve.
These artworks, while at first glance visually striking, call for a paradigm shift in the way we experience life itself. Our over-reliance on science and technology has taught humanity to see the world through a dreamlike state that can cause suffering. Many of Novak's works depict people shedding tears formed from computer circuitry. The artist calls this 'subconscious escapism' - the loss of our collective minds. However, Novak challenges us to reconnect with reality by practicing mindfulness - getting out of our heads so to speak. Western medicine and psychology is finally catching up to the teachings of ancient Eastern philosophy.
The artist's dual career as a practising medical doctor also comes to the fore in this series. Medical iconography is drawn upon, with the Caduceus symbol frequently featured. However, by redeploying elements of street art and urban art, Novak creates an original artistic dialog through his New Blood Pop series. The artist describes his own experience of the works:
"New Blood Pop is concerned with how we experience life itself, the 21st century issues we face such as inequalities in wealth and health, sustainability and globalization. I'm also interested in the idea of escapism especially through science fiction and the superhero franchise. Of the things we choose to believe, what's real, and what's not? These works are global, flagrant, iconic and ironic.
I endeavor to create powerful multi-layered works, with an emblazoned foreground overlaying a 'veiled' background, to show that many of us are living life through a distorting veil, clouding our perception. Our awareness tainted by biases and judgments - a fantasy that we've created for ourselves - the practice of mindfulness promises salvation."
New Blood Pop is...
- Concerned with how we experience life ('veiled' or with clarity);
- Concerned with 21st century issues (e.g. inequalities in wealth and health, sustainability and globalization);
- Concerned with escapism (science fiction/fantasy and comics/superheroes-villains);
- Global (non-specific to a particular country);
- Scientific or medical;
- Ironic (contains contradictory or contrasting messages).