Bread and Butter Gallery (Whitianga, NZ)
'Hybrid 1.0' - Solo Exhibition (January 2020)
an offspring of two animals or plants of different races, breeds, varieties, species, or genera a hybrid of two roses
a person whose background is a blend of two diverse cultures or traditions
something (such as a power plant, vehicle, or electronic circuit) that has two different types of components performing essentially the same function drives a hybrid that gets really good mileage
Brad Novak (aka New Blood Pop) explores ‘identity’ for his first solo show of 2020. Charismatic animals merge with humans to create his distinct Hybrid figures.
Through uncanny juxtaposition Novak wants to convey the complexity of our identities, which resist being put in convenient little boxes. The artist considers himself a ‘Hybrid’ - geek first, artist second, and doctor third.
It was a visit to a London gallery in the early 2000’s that changed his life.
“Before that visit I thought art had to be realism; I thought if you can’t paint a photograph it's not real art. Two hours in the Tate Modern and my fate was sealed. It was like a lightning strike, it unlocked something in me. I suddenly realised that art can be an idea and not just a pretty picture,” says Brad.
That event changed the trajectory of his career. Now an internationally-renowned urban pop culture artist Novak continues to surprise.
'Brickwork' - Solo Exhibition (January 2019)
In his upcoming solo show "Brickwork' at Bread and Butter Gallery Brad Novak (aka New Blood Pop) showcases new paintings connected by the use of a paper collaged brick wall background.
Juxtaposed on top you'll find superheroes and 1950's glamour actresses. But this is not simply visual gymnastics. The artist challenges us to take the "Digital Dilemma" seriously. In these works each character looks out of the frame through a digital lens.
Progress in this modern world is deceptive. Technologically we're advancing at a huge rate, but human happiness isn't increasing. In reality, Novak suggests we're becoming less connected.
Do we have the ability or inclination to rethink?
'New Blood Pop at The Design Show' - Solo Exhibition (July 2018)
Novak describes himself as an urban-pop artist, which stems from not only his love of popular culture but also his fascination with the Street Art movement. In this new collection both these influences come together in his most 'concrete' statement to date with pop culture heroes (such as Carrie Fisher/Harrison Ford) and other famous icons (e.g. Sir Edmund Hillary) displayed on a background of bricks. Areas of these walls have then been ‘buffed’ out (painted over) and phrases placed on top.
In the artists own words:
"There’s so much advice being given to us on a daily basis - the quick-fix self-help stuff out there on social media constantly tells us what we should and shouldn't be doing. I’ve come up with some of my favourite 'catch phrases' and juxtaposed them against different subjects. That’s why Queen Elizabeth is saying “Put Out Rubbish”… I like the idea that the Queen might be saying this to Prince Philip (or hinting that we need to declutter our lives).
The Mona Lisa is telling us to “Never Grow Up” which seems fitting - she's perpetually young and is telling us to keep our inner child alive – and that's the main reason I love to create."
'Sound Organised In Time' - Solo Show (January 2018)
What does it mean to be creative?
Brad Novak believes that, at its heart, it is a way of living.
His latest solo exhibition at Bread and Butter Gallery showcases creative individuals who have lived their truth and as a result made a significant impact worldwide. They are innovators, their music defining their respective generations, and setting direction towards a future that is more hopeful. Through their craft they have challenged, shocked, and of course brought enjoyment to millions. Musicians are the ultimate icons of popular culture – are there more recognizable humans than Mick Jagger, John Lennon or David Bowie?
For the artist, growing up in Auckland NZ in the 80’s and 90’s, Prince, Guns N Roses and Nirvana were the soundtrack to his youth… for others it may be Blondie, Madonna or Grace Jones. While many of us may look backwards to those halcyon days, in recent years there are still rare and authentic artists breaking through who are more than just great musicians (Adele and our very own Lorde to name two).
Patterned repetitive backgrounds, including digital motherboards, tropical designs and ‘brick walls’, provide the backdrop for the musicians to project forwards. Novak overlays drips, grids and columns of Ben-Day dots (a homage to pop art king Roy Lichtenstein) and his New Blood Pop symbol. The result is a group (or maybe band?) of works that intend to convey their own unique melody and cadence.
'Interstellar Glamour' - Solo Show (September 2017)
An attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing
Occurring or situated between stars
Novak’s upcoming solo show with Bread and Butter Gallery sees him return to one of his key themes (‘the cult of celebrity’), this time 16 new works present a distinctly vintage twist.
Well known for utilising popular culture, specifically the depiction of celebrities from the hyper-inflated world of American stardom (think Liz Taylor and Judy Garland). The artist steps us back in time (or is it the future?) with his ‘Interstellar Glamour’.
Icons such as Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Twiggy inhabit his creations. Their iconography underpinned by the use of repetitive images of fellow superstars, such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. In keeping with his current practice, several works also juxtapose against backgrounds of contrasting imagery - science fiction heroes, comic book characters and cultural icons feature prominently.
All of the works depict people shedding tears formed from computer circuitry, or looking at the world through a technological ‘lens’. Our ever increasing love affair with technology has definite tradeoffs.
Perhaps his most cohesive body of work to date, ‘Interstellar Glamour’ epitomises the artist’s fascination with pop culture, cinema and juxtaposition.
"Season's End" group show with Michael Smither and others - 4th March 2017
SOLD OUT SOLO SHOW - "Beauty of the Beast" - Jan/Feb 2017
Beauty of the Beast is Novak's first solo exhibition held with a gallery in New Zealand. His first ever solo was held in the urban backdrop of Artrite Screenprinting's factory in Auckland in 2015. More recent solo and group shows in Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago, and an upcoming group show in New York, make the artist even more proud to be bringing forth a fresh body of work to Whitianga, New Zealand.
Novak's art practice (aka New Blood Pop) is well known for drawing influence from popular culture, movies, science fiction and the cult of celebrity. All are grounded originally in his childhood passions. It is with this commonality that animals inhabit the spotlight in these portraits. Growing up in the Novak household with three brothers they were fascinated by shows such as ‘Our World’ and other David Attenborough documentaries.
These works may appear to be in some cases examples of juxtaposition for juxtaposition’s sake e.g. a fierce growling Wolf back-lit with Picasso's 'Child holding a dove', or a cheeky Rabbit proudly superimposed on top of a battalion of Stormtroopers. However, they aren't just challenging us to find associations (that might at first be elusive). Novak is commenting on our priorities as humans in the 21st century... provoking questions such as - who are the real stars? Will we know what we’ve taken for granted until it’s too late?
The animals selected are 'international' in nature in line with Novak's practice as an internationally-galleried artist based in NZ, rather than solely a 'NZ artist' per se. His influences stem largely from superstar artists around the globe many of which he has shown with in recent years overseas (his Warholian aesthetic is intentionally unsubtle).
So if you find yourself asking ‘why is a Mountain Goat and Sigourney Weaver or the Mona Lisa combined in the same painting?' The artist challenges us back, asking... 'well why the hell not?!'