Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Visual Artist Chris Bakay gives new meaning to moments in time through his t-shirt resin art.
If you're reading this article, chances are you've owned a favorite t-shirt in the past. You know the one I'm talking about; the one that has a hole in the collar and pit stains too hard to scrub out. It might have been that old 80's Transformers shirt you're too big to wear now. Possibly that derelict 1992 NBA Dream Team shirt with cartoon characters. It might be that Beastie Boys concert tee you got. Sometimes that shirt is something more and can become sacred. It can be a gateway to a person or pathway to a feeling.
But whatever it is, it starts as a memory. Quite possibly, an awesome one. And visual artist Chris Bakay's art takes that meaning to a new level.
"Words and images can only go so far in telling the story of a time and place in history. Objects give us deeper insights by having physical contact with the past. They tell today that yesterday was real, that it actually happened. Certain experiences can transfigure these objects into bearers of identification, emotion and recollection. A thing by itself is inert. Its spirit is dormant. Only by reviving its narrative can it be resuscitated with new meaning. Once it has been brought back to life its molecules vibrate with an event, emotion or memory. By remaking these objects using elevated mediums and processes I’m paying homage to not only the memory itself but the participants as well.”
Bakay lost his older brother to a car accident in 1996. While there weren't many pictures or videos of him, there were some old belongings that Bakay has particularly cherished.
"Like most younger siblings, I thought my brother was a legend. By elevating the physicality of both his objects and ones of that time period, I am presenting a somewhat biased portrait of his life and athletic prowess. This is where the series title, “Retired Jerseys” came from."
The shirts themselves already look pretty wicked. The resin process seems arduous in itself, but the final product creates a magical point in time that makes your mind make you feel like, at least for us, be in two places at once. It's a very surreal feeling when looking at the art as well as thinking about the meaning behind them. But even if you don't understand Bakay's philosophy or artistic impression, seeing these dope-looking shirts automatically thrusts you into a different year, at a different time and space. Paintings don't really offer the same feeling. Neither do sculptures. The memory that's brought up is the starting point, and the people involved with that memory becomes elevated, like Bakay said.
The art offers a unique feeling where the closest thing that can be considered as comparable, would be an out-of-body experience. It's almost therapeutic in a way that we didn't realize. We took the art at face value, seeing how cool it looked. Imagine if his exhibition would look like a streetwear store, with hundreds of these shirts hanging (we still think that would look cool, by the way). But this is more than art. Digging deeper, it means much, much more. That each shirt represents a fond memory of a time that most definitely happened, and continues to live on. The shirt lives on. The memory lives on. The people live on.
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