chris bracey — i’ve looked up to heaven and been down to hell » scream

chris_bracey_-_love_and_hate_1from the scream gallery web­site:

scream is proud to present lon­don-based light artist chris bracey’s first uk solo exhi­bi­tion. chris bracey has worked with neon and lights for over thir­ty years and the title of this exhi­bi­tion alludes to his remark­able jour­ney and career. bracey has acquired a vast fan base includ­ing com­mis­sions from high-pro­file clients such as david lachapelle, stel­la mccart­ney, mar­tin creed and vivi­enne west­wood. bracey has also pro­vid­ed dra­mat­ic instal­la­tions for films such as kubrick’s eyes wide shut, burton’scharlie and the choco­late fac­to­ry and the bat­man films. many of bracey’s works are self-pro­duced neons, ref­er­enc­ing pop­u­lar cul­ture – “shine a light in the dark­ness of your soul” was writ­ten by mar­tin gore from depeche mode and “there is a light that nev­er goes out” is from a song by the smiths. the exhi­bi­tion also includes icon­ic imagery from tat­too cul­ture such as “love & hate”, las vegas and the streets of soho. bracey also sal­vages old lights from fair­grounds, film props and vin­tage signs to re-work and re-gen­er­ate them into con­tem­po­rary pop sculp­tures that lumi­nate and con­jure a sense of won­der, nos­tal­gia and glam­our.

bracey’s father was a neon sign-mak­er, pre­dom­i­nant­ly for fair­grounds and amuse­ment arcades, and chris learnt how to man­u­fac­ture and design the neon signs at an ear­ly age. inspired by the vibran­cy and kitsch char­ac­ter of the soho area in lon­don dur­ing the 1970s, bracey was con­fi­dent that his designs for the signs would bring a fresh sense of glam­our and intrigue to the area. the work went from strength to strength with every soho club own­er want­i­ng bracey’s mag­ic touch to revi­tal­ize their venues. dur­ing this time bracey was approached by art direc­tor chris townsend who intro­duced him to the world of film and this gave bracey the auton­o­my to expand the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what could be done with neon. bracey com­ments, “like any work of art, it’s got spir­it. neon is only hap­py when it’s on, when it’s alive”.

hav­ing shown exten­sive­ly in the us and with a focus on com­mer­cial projects for the last few years, this exhi­bi­tion brings togeth­er a selec­tion of new works specif­i­cal­ly deal­ing with themes of heav­en and hell – a metaphor for bracey’s diverse bio­graph­i­cal jour­ney. these themes bring togeth­er the high­lights of bracey’s prac­tice and trans­form the gallery into the realms of heav­en, with free-stand­ing angel and jesus sculp­tures, sus­pend­ed wings and star con­stel­la­tions; and hell with his trade­mark soho sex, tat­too and rock ‘n’ roll iconog­ra­phy such as “hot burn­ing love”.

bracey’s entrance into the lon­don art world will be dra­mat­i­cal­ly evi­dent as you approach the gallery, with a site-spe­cif­ic win­dow instal­la­tion of a dag­ger smash­ing through the win­dow into a neon heart. bracey pro­vides an immer­sive expe­ri­ence for the view­er where he play­ful­ly cre­ates a sense of the­atri­cal­i­ty and implic­it­ly rais­es ques­tions about moral­i­ty, spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and their role in soci­ety.

 

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