I noticed afterwards that the 2 works I picked as header and frontpage for this blog, both contain lights.
The use of lights is one of the strands in my art. In my early work (painting on canvas) I sought the illusion of light, which I tried to reinforce by building up the surface on the canvas. Then I became convinced that the creation of a reality that is there is more powerful than the creation of the illusion of another reality. At least, that’s what I told myself. In reality, I went for both.
As I moved from flat surfaces to three-dimensional work, the incorporation of lights became part of my palette, so to speak. Rather than to depict light, through the use of colors, I would make light. I began by incorporating fluorescent lights, such as in the work below:
Where I parked my truck (1988) 69 by 29 by 11 inches. Mixed media on found objects, fluorescent light.
And, as in the piece I used for my frontpage, I used decorative christmas lights in several works, such as the one below. I named it after the little man on a horse riding through this strange place. He’s below on the right, I made him hard to notice.
Black Rider (1990) 32 by 32 by 5 inches. Mixed media on found wood, lights.
To expand my possibilities, I took a neon-class at the New School in New York. The first work for which I made my own neon was this one, in which a made a neon tube that went through a cholla-cactus skeleton, one of the many I picked up during our travels in the southwest of the US:
A place to stay (1989) 31 by 26 by 12 inches. Mixed media on wood, found objects, neon light.
This work became kind of a house altar, and as such underwent many changes. Lately, it looked like this:
But today it is different again.
I made neon follow the contours of a work I carved out of a door, after the fall of the Berlin wall. The forms were inspired by the way some segments of the wall looked, after being attacked by uncounted freedom lovers, with the veins of steel sticking out of the crumbled concrete. It’s an anti-wall peace in which the light represents the hope of coming together, not just of east and west but of us all. Like Leonard Cohen, my favorite bard, sings: “There is a crack, a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in…”
Breach (1991)34 by 84 inches. Mixed media on wood, neon lights.
This is a detail of this piece:
I also used neon more directly as a sculptural element but not independently, always in dialogue with other materials. Like in the following work, in which I nestled neon in wood which was already sculpted by natural processes, further enhanced by pigmentation through oxidation (more on that technique later).
Untitled (1989) 41 inches wide. Mixed media on wood, glues, neon lights
This is a detail of this piece:
I only became good enough to make simple neon lights. For more difficult work, such as the letters in the piece below, I paid others to make them.
On the verge (1988, neon added in 1991) 96 by 48 by 5 inches. Mixed media and found objects on wood and masonite, neon lights.
This work merged a landscape and a temple wall. What the neon added, for me, was a festive element and a statement about the impossibility to separate good from bad, light from dark. One is always on the verge of becoming the other.
I have not made new works with neon in quite a while. I don’t exclude returning to it and I have continued to use small lights, like in this work:
Halloween in Sedona (1998)27 by 15 by 8 inches. Mixed media on found materials. Lights.
In the next pic, the same work is seen, installed in a wall in my home, next to another work, in which the incorporation of neon was suggested by my dear friend Herman De Roover.
Light tower (1991) 68 inches tall. Found wood and neon.
The piece I used for my header has internal, fluerescent light. Here is the work in its entirety:
Fish dreaming of land (2008) 24 by 29 by 8 inches. Mixed media on found objects with shark mouth and fluorescent light
The fish seemed so lonely so I gave him a companion:
But I don’t know if she will be allowed to stay. Maybe the fish dreams better alone…