“I’m not a painter. I am an artist. It has nothing to do with paint or a color; it is something you are.”
The sum of our yesterdays and pull of our tomorrows shapes us today. Andre Hart is no different. The rural, golden east foothills, the house his grandfather built with his own hands and his wild Bob Dylan hair are not just where Andre has come from, they are the influences that shape him and his work today. Relatively new to the San Jose art scene, Andre, who has been drawing and painting since he was three, is primarily self-taught. Though he tried art school, much of his instruction has come from an unnamed early mentor and his family friendship with San Jose artist, teacher and gallery owner Al Preciado.
A little over a year ago, in the shadow of his grandmother’s passing, Andre’s grandfather gave him a nudge to move forward with his art. He encouraged Andre—not in an over-handed, “do something with your life, kid” approach, but with the blessings of an experienced man of a quiet generation gently sharing the potential he saw in his daughter’s son.
The result, among others, was a self-portrait.
Andre Hart: I see a part of my work as ‘paraphrasing’ or taking someone’s else’s ideas and going against that, kind of like how folk music has done—taking a theme and exploring it in new ways. Taking an idea and ‘twist’ it a bit, that’s kind of how I work.
So, I was reading a newspaper article. I ended up wanting to do something different where I wasn’t focusing on faces which I do a lot of, and I still ended up with a face in there, but it’s not my traditional face. I don’t have a lot of nudes either, actually. I just wanted to do something different. And, at the time I was listening to an old blues song by Booker White, called, “Fixing to Die” and there is a line in it that says, “I know I was born to die but I hate to leave my children cryin.” I was listening to that song and thinking about our society. That one just came at a time where I was really irritated with everything that was going on all around me. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean an end of the world kind of a thing. I guess there were ideas about how I was very frustrated with our government and the way that there’s a left and a right and how those are our only choices, when really that’s not a choice. That’s no choice. Two sides. It’s Republican or Democrat. That’s not a choice at all. So that’s what that came out of. Why I was born into this free country that’s not even free, kind of a thing.
This is different from my other work and when somebody that hasn’t seen it before sees it, they are turned around and completely terrified by it. It almost seems so foreign. That’s why the hand ‑‑ it’s not her arm, obviously. It’s very contorted and there are six fingers on the hand. Everybody always misses it, too, because the hand looks so realistic. It’s elongated, it’s like she has two forearms. I made it that way, because I think that the corruption in this government and in this society, and I’d say it’s in the world, is just so subtle that you’re distracted by so many things that you just miss the obvious.
The colors with that came from… I’m not an environmentalist in any way, really, I just wanted the whole picture to look like pollution. Not for the environment… pollution of our society.
You can find Andre and his work at:
Article originally appeared in Tech 4.0