WORDS Cheri Morris IMAGES Jason Wyche
Known for his affliction for creating “paintings” from unique, usually three-dimensional, materials, Hugo’s Burdened not only serves as a commentary on environmental degradation, but also a visual discussion. Inspired by the trash pickers of Dharavi slums, Burdened asks viewers to consider how the humble-and-destructive plastic bag transcends barriers between class and geography.
Hugo begins his artistic process by tracing scenes of labour onto wooden panels. He then populates them with multicoloured pieces; fusing them with an iron to form a collage. Layer upon layer of small plastic pieces reveal a dance of colour: as the plastic is thin, one piece changes colour when laid over another.
In the motifs workers manoeuvre wares on their backs and bikes, refugees make a treacherous crossing on the Mediterranean sea and, contrastingly, flowers offer viewers a breath from the suffocation of lockdown life in which this series was created.
Love this imaginative use of single-use plastic? Check out Porky Hefer’s Plastocene – Marine Mutants From a Disposable World here.