Damien Hirst Schizophrenogenesis Neon. 2014. Edition of 12. L 172 x W 15 x D 30 cm
NEON / LIGHT is a new exhibition opening next week featuring sculpture by Cerith Wyn Evans, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Peter Saville and Brian Eno. The show explores the use of light, predominantly neon, as a tool for text, image and planes of colour, often seductive but frequently disguising a more sinister narrative.
Peter Saville’s ‘People Like Neon (fluorescent rose)’ 2012, originally a hand-written note to self, is a succinct and perceptive observation on the timeless allure of neon. It highlights Saville’s great ability as a communicator to distil visual culture to its essence. Another distinctly personal yet universal work, ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’ 2012, again hand-written in neon, but this time respectively by his mother and father, is Saville’s memory of them encapsulated in letterform. Saville’s intention is that the collector submits their own parental ‘signature’, through which the collector’s own memories inhabit the work.
Damien Hirst’s neon sign reading ‘Schizophrenogenesis’ 2014, lights the space. Both a warning sign and a beacon, the work entices the viewer into the gallery. Each letter of the word is a different colour, although this superficial optimism deceives, the word referring to an inevitable development of schizophrenia.
Brian Eno’s lightbox, ‘Chord Tritone’ 2017, seamlessly phases through a combination of sensuous ‘colourscapes’ using a series of interwoven LED lights, seemingly with no beginning or end, no finality. In this way Eno “encourages people to stay in one place for a while”. “If a painting is hanging on a wall we don’t feel that we’re missing something by not paying attention to it. Yet with music and video, we still have the expectation of some kind of drama. My music and videos do change, but they change slowly. And they change in such a way that it doesn’t matter if you miss a bit”.
Brian Eno Chord Tritone, 2017 Light box: LED lights, perspex, wood, usb stick 65 x 130 x 19 cm
Cerith Wyn Evans’ ‘TIX3’ 1994, a back-to-front exit sign in green neon, sits above the fire-place in the gallery, as if the gallery space itself is the landscape through the Looking Glass or more likely a sort of no-man’s land, somehow excluded from whatever lies on the other side, the sign acting as a form of policing where we are ourselves on the ‘wrong side’, the other side of the law, or perhaps the wrong side of 30.
Sarah Lucas’ ‘New Religion’ (orange) 1999, a neon outline of a coffin, shines out like a funeral parlour advertisement, a selling prop for death. The alluring neon gas that lights up its surroundings is not enough to compensate for the macabre starkness of the structure, no lid no sides and open to the gallery floor, that marks out the space we are yet to inhabit.
NEON / LIGHT Private View: 21 March 6pm – 8pm Exhibition: 22 March – 28 April 2018 Paul Stolper 31 Museum Street London WC1A 1LH www.paulstolper.com