After working for many years as a designer, in 2009 Richard Hart began exhibiting as a visual artist. Although his work encompasses a diverse array of disciplines, painting is at the core of Hart’s practise. His work is rooted in the experience of a life lived in Africa, and explores its mythical and spiritual landscape. It takes cues from ritual, witchcraft and Muti, as well as religious movements such as Shembe and the Zionist movement, weaving together factual and fictive narratives to speculate on an Africa that exists just beyond our reach.
This series, entitled Sun, Moon, Earth, Here Now derives from a photographic series taken on a recent trip to Africa. His photographs have been transformed to create mystical and elemental montages that imply some sort of narrative in the way that they interact with and inter-relate to each other. Not only do these works perfectly exemplify Richard's keen eye for design, but also his interest in symbolism. Hart, however, avoids over-explanation of these symbols, allowing people to make their own interpretations and personal narratives, with the knowledge that each object and idea has a very personal meaning to him.
He says: "my work often employs rocks. they are particularly potent objects for me, charged with the energy of place and of time. With this series of prints though, their solidity – their "rockness" – is undermined by allowing them to stand for abstract ideas such as god(s) or magic." As his work is concerned with texture and physicality, for this series Hart has chosen to print onto muslin cloth, giving them a wonderful rawness, graininess and tactility.
"My work is often an attempt to question and subvert cliched western ideas of Africa. Working primarily in painting, but also in printmaking, ceramics, video, photography and installation I weave fictive utopian African futures through the lens of myth, magic, religion, superstition and my own lived experience." - Richard Hart