This Neon art exhibition celebrates the legacy of punk anarchy in the UK
Celebrated artist, Illuminati Neon will be setting London’s Castle Fine Art, St Christopher’s Place ablaze with his eagerly awaited The Art of Chaos exhibition from 26 August to 26 September, combining hand-blown neon, montage, typography and graphic art to celebrate the legacy of punk anarchy in the UK.
The show is inspired by the artist’s punk roots, with pieces emblazoned with lyrics, featuring icons who embodied the punk ethos – from the tattooed and pierced Queen to Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and his late friend and Motörhead legend, Lemmy – often incorporating artefacts and memorabilia, such as vintage, Royal Standard flags and rare t-shirts.
It’s my homage to punk – not only the way we looked, but the way we thought and treated others. Every piece tells a story about that transformative era
Illuminati’s unique ability to channel punk subculture through his bold and provocative pieces has seduced collectors including Sir Elton John, Boy George and Sting and earned him a place in The World’s Best Emerging Artists exhibition at Saatchi Gallery.
He explains: “It’s my homage to punk – not only the way we looked, but the way we thought and treated others. ”Every piece tells a story about that transformative era; my experience of it, the people who made it and became my friends, and the honorary punks who personified its anarchy, chaos and rock ’n’ roll long before the movement had a name.”
Highlights of the show include a playful and complex God Save the Queen neon – a reworking of a piece which made headlines when a cavalry officer reported that the Queen herself had asked for the Prince Phillip tattoo Illuminati had painted onto her shoulder to be replaced by a royal crest. Similar, Illuminati Queen neons proudly hang on the walls of the Sex Pistols, whose legendary punk anthem it is named after.
The exhibition also features The Krays Hardcore, a neon flanked portrait of the notorious brothers, who Illuminati has an intimate knowledge of, after hand-delivering the script of The Krays film he worked on with the Kemp brothers to Reggie Kray himself and befriending their sidekick, Mad Frankie Fraser. The Art of Chaos will also see limited edition prints in each of Castle Fine Art’s 39 UK galleries, supported by a number of his neon originals.
Illuminati is even inviting buyers to create one-off pieces with him via his Pictures of You series of artworks, surrounded by polaroids, which come with a camera so collectors can personalise them with their own images.
The works were made in his legendary Shepherd’s Bush studio, a chaotic jungle of neon, where the spirit of punk lives on, attracting members of the Sex Pistols and the pirate radio station he allows to broadcast from it. The artist’s home nearby glows so brightly with his neon artworks, he’s been told that pilots flying into Heathrow use it as a visual reference point.
Illuminati – aka Mark Sloper – is a born raconteur, both in person and through his art and successful film career, which has seen him direct and produce documentaries telling the stories of Billy Fury, The Beatles, John Lennon, David Bowie, Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols, among many others. These luminaries, along with his late friend and fellow neon artist, Chris Bracey, inspired him to create his first fluorescent narratives.
Born into a long line of artists and rebels, paint and punk has always run through Illuminati’s blood. After a chance encounter with new wave pioneer, Adam Ant, at the age of just 11, he became captivated by punk subculture and its expression of working-class angst.
He peppered studies at Sheffield’s art college with frequent trips to London, where the punk scene was alight. There, he befriended some of the movement’s trailblazers and troubadours, including the Sex Pistols and The Stranglers, who remain part of his close, inner circle. With an eye and ear for powerful storytelling, a career in videography beckoned, so he went on to work as a cameraman and director of photography for bands like The Police and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, before joining the BBC and producing and directing a slew of successful documentaries.
After shining a light on other people’s stories, the artist is now ready to illuminate his own, with this electrifying exhibition.