The Last House on The Left (2022), a recent iteration in Alex Da Corte's ongoing 'Cel Painting' series, references a playful mural on the windowless exterior of Jo Skymer Lighting, a famous lighting store in Pennsauken, New Jersey, which has since been painted over.
The artist's monumental painting and its original function as an advertisement for domestic lamps, has inspired our current group exhibition titled SHINE ON. A reflection of Da Corte's simulacra, this lively assembly of sculptural lights made by artists are busily displayed as a lamp supply shop within the white cube of our Davies Street gallery.
The possibilities of lamps have long engaged artists, the self-illuminating quality adding the functional to the determinedly anti-functional nature of an artwork. There are numerous historical examples (not included in our 'showroom') by Alina Szapocznikow, David Hammons, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Pablo Picasso, Martin Creed and others, that use the lamp form to address class, race, gender and desire, often with the element of light itself as conceptual or metaphorical component. But as you can see in our incomplete selection for SHINE ON, these sculptural lamps can also be playful mood enhancers, ripostes to architecture, evocative of the body or natural forms, a direct descendent of the readymade or a challenge to the rules of both conventional design and good taste.
Or they could just be lights. Made by artists. SHINE ON!
Suspended from the ceiling, Martin Boyce's A Forest (I) (2009) is from a series based on photographs of the 'Concrete Trees' created in 1925 by the brothers Joël and Jan Martel for the 'Exposition des Arts Décoratifs' in Paris.
The construction of a heart-shaped chandelier with hanging lava lamps is Catharine Czudej's new contribution to SHINE ON. Czudej destabilizes common objects and conventions with a humorous approach by inverting the familiar.
Alex Da Corte's recent edition of his 2008 light work, After Play (2023), scatters five spherical emoticon bulbs on the gallery floor etched with an emoji, uniting consumer culture and modern design.
Cerith Wyn Evans's After image Neon (sketched on the back of an envelope containing an Electricity Bill) (2023) continues the artist's ongoing practice working with neon, first beginning in 1994, which has gradually developed into a technique that uses electrified glass tubes to draw in space.
Urs Fischer's early light work, Clouds (2002), floats high in the exhibition space. The sculpture is completed by the attached shadows of a soft pink hue that add a surreal element common to the artist's playful manipulations of physical form.
In Peter Fischli's latest 'signal' sculpture, Untitled (2024), the main body of the light sits at a low level with untethered wires hanging recklessly and one 'bulb' without function. The chalk-coloured vertical pole, haphazardly marked with brushstrokes of white, houses the digital controller of the signal.
Gelatin contribute a new lamp to SHINE ON that is traditional in shape but made with lo-fi materials and forces light to seep from a crack in the plaster shade down the wooden trunk of the stand.
Isa Genzken's 2006 Untitled work takes a figurative form made up of common components of domestic lighting curiously embellished with coconut fibre hair and poised above a mound of discarded artichokes. The fragile character of Genzken's constructions reflect the surrounding world and the fragility of human existence.
Max Hooper Schneider's sculptural landscape considers the ecosystems of underwater microcosmic communities. Exurbia (2023) embodies the artist's research into the tragic and toxic results garnered by humanity's interference with ecology: intricately crafted flora and fauna cohabit with miniature Tiffany lamps polluting the habitat with light.
Martin Kippenberger's eponymously titled work, Kippenblinky (1991), is one of a series of unique standing lamps, made up of smoking pipes embedded in cast resin - an emblematic example of Kippenberger's artistic style. The artist was largely inspired by Venetian ornate furnishings and the homes of the local bourgeoise.
Cary Kwok's 2017 sconce light continues the artist's realisation of light sources as phallic symbols with candlewax and plumes of smoke that ejaculate. In Arrival (Jazz) the wax and resin form a sculptural cloud, emitting light and erupting from a golden phallus clasped by a smartly dressed hand protruding from the wall.
Jim Lambie's Knight Time (2008) situates a cuboid of crushed metal armour and furniture on a minimalist mirrored block, adorned with multicoloured festoon lighting fixtures.
Klara Liden, whose work here was made especially for the exhibition, applies a brutal and reductive economy of means in her appropriation of industrial materials or discarded containers to signal urban architecture.
In Sarah Lucas's sculpture, Mary (2012), a female body is suspended mid-air and formed from found objects. The symbolically placed lightbulbs engage the artist's unconventional rawness: the red-lit cavity of the bucket seems almost to turn the body inside out.
Kaspar Müller's latest lamp continues his engagement with how industrial lighting, from its inception to the current day, functions as a means to create a mood or atmosphere through the expression of aesthetic affinities.
Paulina Olowska and Jessica Segall's ornate chandelier uncovers the intricacies of forest life. The 2023 light fixture is embellished with ceramic and handblown glass vegetation to form a whimsical micro-environment.
Jorge Pardo's 2017 lamp is distinguishable by the sinuous laser-cut lines of plastic resin that surround the central light fitting in a fringed formation. Known for his extensive sets of lamps and architectural commissions of total environments, Pardo uses dazzling geometries of form and vibrant colour to question distinctions between fine art and design.
In Fix anything by routine (2023), Jessi Reaves continues to use furniture as both material and subject, considering the intersections between functionality and aesthetic design.
The inconspicuous Große Lampe (2005) by Franz West exemplifies the artist's continued exploration of the easy relationship between furniture making and artistic practice, and more broadly, art and functional design.
Oh! Monstruosa Culpa! (2013), Fred Wilson's black glass chandelier, is inspired by Shakespeare's Venetian tragedy Othello. Wilson uses the monochromatic colour of the material in juxtaposition with the grandeur of traditional Venetian form, evoking the layers of history and race that have defined much of his oeuvre.
Anicka Yi's pendant sphere works from 2019 are upholstered with a stretched leather-like kelp material and project an understated golden glow filtered by the thick 'skin' of the orb. Flickers of animatronic insects appear within, ironic in their artificial programming as an indicator of life.