An edited version of this article appeared on Josh Spear.
I’m a sucker for neon. It’s bright, colourful, glowing, and often directs you towards something hedonistic like “Beer” or “Open All Night”. When you think about neon sculpture (and who doesn’t) think of French artist Daniel Firman.
His work is a diverse bunch of opposites. When it comes to neon, it looks like there’s always an attempt at perfection that doesn’t somehow make it. The multi-coloured lines tend to radiate out from a central point in an attempt to create a perfect shape, but they all deteriorate at a point. Near perfect circles have one line that goes a stray. Not a technological failure, but more like an organic neon form with a genetic defect.
His life-sized body cast plaster sculptures stand in impossible formations – balanced on each other’s feet or crawling upward into an inner tube. Clothed and proportioned, but with faces always hidden, their apparent realness is shocking at first. He plays with the visual trick of making each mannequin look real but defy the laws of gravity at the same time.
He achieves the same effect with Suspensions – fully dressed bodies held in the air or flopped over metal bars. It’s clear that these aren’t static situations – a moment of action has been captured. Not the jump-off or the landing but some instant in between. Better still is when all the balances are incorporated together into one installation…
One of his current exhibitions, at La Galeri des Galeries, is a celebration in honour of the 20th anniversary of famed French couturier Christian LaCroix. Appropriately, rather than form the body sculptures from plaster he not only dressed them, but formed their very bodies, from Lacroix’s clothing.