Bernard Pras: Spot the Upcycled Objects in this Art

Pras bernard che guevera
Using only upcycled objects, French artist Bernard Pras reinterprets iconic images through the art of anamorphosis.

Relying on old trash gathered near his installation sites, Bernard Pras from France assembles clothes and rags, wood, old record albums, dishes, broken toys (and anything else he can grab) to re-interpret pop-culture images. It’s far from ad hoc: his material selections include specific choices that add a subtle undercurrent to the imagery.

I’d seen his “portraits” just before taking a stroll through Amman’s Abdali Market, an enormous street sale of used clothes and shoes that blooms beneath miles of orange tenting each Friday.  Those colorful collections of dresses and shirts suddenly seemed like an artist’s palate. It’s so good for the brain to see things from a new perspective.

So, listen up, class. The word of the day is “anamorphic”. It describes a visual illusion produced by intentional distortion of an image caused by unequal magnification along perpendicular axes.

It’s a clever artistic device commonly employed by street artists whose elaborate chalk renderings of gaping sinkholes and pedestrian-chomping sharks are powerful when viewed – or photographed – from a single planned vantage point.

Bernard Pras - Einstein

Look at the installation from any other vantage point and you’ll see a mountain of trash.  So, once each sculpture is complete, Pras positions his camera in the perfect spot to reconstitute the intended image as a 2D painting. Watch this short video to get the picture:


Recall those old I Spy books?  Look closely at any of Pras’ photos, what can you identify?  Che Guevera’s lips and curls are actually guns.  Pras “painted” his geisha girl with fans and seashells, and used broken records for her black lacquered hair. And is Einstein’s red tongue a vacuum cleaner canister?

Pras bernard geisha

He’s tackled classic photographs  of Che Guevera, Albert Einstein, and Marilyn Monroe as well paintings such as Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

bernard pras upcylced trash to art

Sure, the trash he’s pulling from the general waste-stream isn’t making any environmental difference.  His work is visually interesting , and – as Green Prophet has seen with others working with trash as artistic media –  it may raise our awareness of the artifacts we use and how we discard them.

Images of Bernard Pras installations from Inspiration Green

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