During the 1970s, amidst the U.K.’s declining economic conditions, a new subculture was born; this, of course, was Punk. An embraced by a generation of youth who felt frustrated and socially alienated.
This cultural phenomenon gave the government, hierarchy, and all other unequal power systems the middle finger. The Stylised Circle-A is synonymous with the movement, a symbol of chaos.
Formed of the capital letter A surrounded by a circle is globally identified as a symbol of anarchism. The A represents the Greek anarkhia (‘without ruler/authority), and the circle can be read as the letter O, standing for order or organisation. As quoted by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s in his 1840 book What Is Property?, “as man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks order in Anarchy.
“Cause I wanna be anarchy It’s the only way to be”
Anarchy In The UK – Sex Pistols
This chaos gave birth to numerous individuals who embraced the Punk ethos, including the famous Sex Pistols, whose hits include, Anarchy In The U.K. and God save the Queen. Where the group would belt out radical mantras over snare drums bestowing their feelings of anti-establishment.
Punk is an aesthetic, a message, an opinion, an ideology concerned with freedom. Anarchism has a lengthy association with the arts and expression.
We had the opportunity to experience Punk in its artistic form at Illuminate Neon’s eagerly awaited exhibition The Art of Chaos. That Features a body of work inspired by his punk roots featuring icons who embraced the punk ethos—held in the intimate settings of London’s Castle Fine Art at St Christopher’s place.
Arriving at Castle Fine Art, a magnificent tribute welcomes you to the Golden Age of comics. Joachim Phoenix immortalises the Crown Prince of Anarchy in the form of The Joker. This juxtaposed creation features an antique American flag that displays 48 stars, signifying how many states existed when D.C. introduced the Supervillain into their dark universe.
The Crown Prince of Anarchy is an impressive piece of art. Hand-painted and flaunts an intricate tapestry layered with a wealth of provenance inscribed with notes taken from the journal of Arthur Fleck, aka The Joker, that was featured in the 2019 movie. Illuminati emphasises this piece with his hand-blown neon typography providing an exquisite appearance fit for any DC Comics fan or art lover who wants to adorn their walls with an aesthetically satisfying statement.
The statements don’t stop there as the grit of rebellion beams off the walls creates an intensity you can feel against your skin.
Making my way around the exhibition, I noticed a few icons are not directly associated with the Punk movement. Such as Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse and Princess Diana. Despite this, Illuminati enlists their inner rebel to celebrate their anecdotes of disobedience.
Powerfully executed in Punk Princess, a contrasting yet visually bold piece that sparks conversation. He re-envisions Diana’s tenacity, playfully depicting her rebelliousness. Decorating the princess in a spiked collar, chain necklace, nose piercing, complemented by a chest tattoo that states “Royal as Fuck”.
He invites you to remember her as a revolutionary who didn’t let social systems discourage her unique character or prevent her from demanding change. Punk is a philosophy of freedom and breaking the rules, and Marilyn, Amy and Diana did precisely that.
Other Highlights of the exhibition include an energetic God Save the Queen neon. A piece that made headlines when a cavalry officer reported the Queen herself had requested for the Prince Phillip tattoo Illuminati had applied to her shoulder to be replaced by a royal crest.
The Illuminati Queen neons proudly hang on the walls of the Sex Pistols, whose legendary punk anthem it is named after. The exhibition highlights the transformative era well, depicting several personalities and icons who embrace the Punk ethos in a true anarchy style.
Neon’s artwork truly celebrates his Punk roots, relationships, and the golden era that shaped his life and memories. It also reflects elements of change and movement that defined British history.
The Art of Chaos is a must-see for any Punk enthusiast or if you had the fortune to experience this cultural phenomenon in your lifetime.
The Art of Chaos is on until 26 September 2021 at Castle Fine Art.
Castle Fine Art 25-26 St Christopher’s Pl, London W1U 1NS