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Neon Art - A Playground For The Creative – Part II

February 26, 2015 4 min read

Here at Neon Creations, showcasing our work to the world and knowing that our clients are forever delighted with their neon art is a big reward for us, as we take pride in each and every one of our creations. This is why we’re always on the lookout for upcoming local events, exhibitions and other forms of promotion, so that we can light up everyone’s world with our uniquely dazzling lifetime compan-eons. With this in mind, we’ll soon be exhibiting at the Northern Restaurant & Bar show on 17th-18th March at Manchester Central where we will unveil a pop-up stall and create our own mini neon wonderland.

If you recall, a couple of weeks ago we highlighted a number of artist exhibitions that have exploited neon’s fluorescent properties to demonstrate the versatility of the noble gas when an electric current is passed through the encasing vacuum tubes. Such applications continue to demonstrate the true diversity of this inert, monatomic gas which is fast becoming a popular fixture throughout the art world, amongst many other commercial uses of course. Due to the sheer number of contemporary artists that work with neon, we felt that our previous post wasn’t extensive enough to truly pay homage to such an artisanal trade, so here we present you another selection of innovative displays.

Tracey Emin

“You Loved Me Like A Distant Star” (2012)

Despite her mention in our previous post, as a renowned member of the Young British Artists (YBAs) we couldn’t exactly leave her out considering that Tracey Emin has become prevalent in the art world over recent years through her intimate work with neon. Emin’s personal neon works – her ‘I Promise To Love You’ collection – juxtapose elements of her basic, intimate handwritten text, with a pastel coloured neon medium that traditionally serves a more commercial purpose.

Emin’s neon workshop (2012)

Dan Flavin

“The Diagonal of May 25, 1963” (1963)

Another majorly influential neon artist also mentioned in our previous post is the particularly notable Dan Flavin, whose pioneering contemporary neon art works became icons of Minimalism. With a career spanning over 30 years, his light installations presented immersive “situations” to the viewer through the use of fluorescent lighting; often seen spanning corners, to engage with the architecture of the space. His wall- and floor-mounted, site-specific tubes were arranged in both intersecting and parallel lines to emit an unorthodox display of conventional light, as it glowingly illuminated the space in which it occupied.

“Untitled” (1987)

Robert Irwin

“Light and Space” (2007)

As a leading innovator in the California Light and Space Movement, Robert Irwin initially began his career as a painter but turned to installations to create much more powerful works with fluorescent lighting. While his pieces adapted a less Minimalistic approach than Flavin, Irwin’s installations played with the use of geometric shapes to exemplify how light emitted from various angles can create stunning displays which affect the surrounding environment and the viewer’s perceptions.

“Gypsy Switch” (2010)

Keith Sonnier

“Cannes” (2008)

Perceived as one of the most iconic neon artists of the 20th century, Keith Sonnier was the first and has been the most successful artists of recent times to use light in sculpture in the 1960s. Sonnier’s works are often perceived as Post-Minimalist or Minimalist, his semi-figurative light installations utilise neon tubing and are predominantly constructed in a distinctly abstract arrangement to heighten the lights’ reflective qualities within a specific space. His vague figurations often reference natural forms that are inspired from his travels across the world; such as the free-standing sculptures seen in his “Herd” series (2009).

 “Buffalo” (2007)

Laddie John Dill

“Red Tide Intersection” (2012)

Laddie John Dill was another pivotal figure in California’s Light and Space Movement and has been integrating light, space and earthy materials into luminous sculptures and installations since the 1970s, as majorly influenced by fellow contemporaries; Irwin and Sonnier. Dill’s “Light Sentence” (1971) are perhaps his most accomplished pieces and play on the presence and absence of fluorescent light, set on a black background, to truly demonstrate the gases’ radiant qualities within a tempered atmosphere.

“Light Sentence” (1971)

Bruce Nauman

“The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths” (1967)

Bruce Nauman’s work was much more focused on neon as a nostalgic reference to American consumerism and as a means of conveying his bold statements. Nauman questions the role and purpose of art in society, rather than simply using neon an expressive medium. However, although many of Nauman’s neon artworks were sexually explicit, they flirt around the metaphorical and semantic possibilities that can be inferred from the simple rearrangement of certain letters in similar words, as seen below in “Run from Fear, Fun from Rear” (1972).

“None Sing, Neon Sign” (1970)

Joseph Kosuth

“Five Words In Red Neon” (1965)

American conceptual artist, Joseph Kosuth, utilised neon as a process of exploring the role and meaning of language within art to demonstrate how texts can be interpreted differently whether being used to describe artworks or physically existing as the artwork itself. Kosuth’s self-referential pieces, such as “FIVE WORDS IN RED NEON” and “Catharsis, Conversion, Tramata”, question the nature of art as a practice where many of his tautological works literally are what they say they are.

“Catharsis, Conversion, Tramata” (1986)

Iván Navarro

“Death Row” (2006)

Chilean artist, Iván Navarro, is most recognised for his unorthodox use of neon and other fluorescent lighting which has often been compared to Minimalism, and the work of Dan Flavin in particular. However, Navarro’s concepts are fundamentally quite different from other fellow contemporaries, in that many of his works utilise mirrors and a variety of coloured light bulbs to create an illusion of infinity within a specified space.

“Clamoras en Vano” (2013)

Author edit: These look awfully familiar

Shezad Dawood

“He is successful who grows in purity” (2007)

Existing as one of the most inventive neon practitioners in art today, Shezad Dawood has used fluorescence as a method of exploring his mixed heritage of Pakistani, Indian and Irish, delving into how knowledge, traditions and values are culturally disparate.  As seen in the above and below works, his concepts and ideas derive from American/European aesthetics, amalgamate philosophical ideologies with elements of his cultural background.

“Triple Negation Chandelier” (2008)

There are a vast number of other professional artists who work with neon as a medium, but unfortunately we had to draw it to a close sometime. However, who knows, there could even be a Part III on the way… Watch this space!


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