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Joel Hart - Dopamine

Words by Reuben Woods - 9 September 2019
Joel Hart - DopamineJoel Hart - DopamineJoel Hart - DopamineJoel Hart - Dopamine

Walking into Joel Hart’s new (and surprisingly only his second ever) solo show Dopamine, one is struck with a feeling of sensory overload. Indeed, this giddy excitement is exactly the sensation Hart strives to create with his beautiful, alluring, and inviting compositions.

There is a constant contrast between the bold, still gaze of his female subjects (their greyscale appearance a reflection of having been lifted from magazines and newspapers) and the chaotic, intriguing layers of detail, filled with urban influences, snippets of text (often with a sense of the sensational, ominous and dramatic that is at odds with the calm faces), bird and plant life, dripping paint and patterns that segment and fracture the plane surface. Much like the glances between the silent faces that shoot across the room, creating an unseen web of connections, our eyes are encouraged to dart across the surfaces and beyond, we lean in to make sense of the dense layering which causes spaces to connect and dissolve. The size of many of these works (in the largest examples, providing a suggested connection to Hart’s mural work) allows us to be enveloped, sucked in for closer inspection, rewarded for our attention. This process is entirely by design, with the show’s title a reference to neurotransmitters in the brain that ferry information between neurons and notably, allows us to see rewards and act towards attaining them. 

Dopamine also reveals Hart’s constant exploration of materials and processes, searching for ways to create different sensations, from flickering light boxes to scuffed copper, shifting layered Perspex sheets to exposed wood, iridescent colours to reflective mirrored surfaces. The myriad material effects of these investigations further the sensory assault of the show, but also suggest Hart’s willingness to embrace a range of challenges, wrangling with different forms with a DIY gusto. This keen attitude, coupled with a handy practicality, is leading Hart in new directions, as evidenced by the sculptural elements included in Dopamine that are the first steps towards a new element of his practice that will perhaps work in conjunction with his public mural works. As such, Dopamine is both an immersive experience for the viewer and a gateway for Hart’s next phase. So, dive in and embrace the rewards found in these engaging works and the suggestive environments they create.

See Joels work here...