Neon Light Installations was one of the earliest examples of installation art in Sydney. It is a light work designed in the 1970s by Peter Kennedy to interact with the architecture of Paddington’s Gallery A, one of the first contemporary art spaces in Australia. In three rooms of the gallery, straight lengths of coloured neon were housed in reflective channels that concentrated the intensity of the lights, and that echoed the architecture of the gallery space by running parallel to walls and doors. Light works such as these were at the cutting edge of avant-garde art practice in Australia in the 1970s. Kennedy was influenced by American artists of the mid-1960s who were working with light, like Keith Sonnier, Bruce Nauman and Dan Flavin. He took a job designing neon lights at Claude Neon, Sydney in order to understand the medium, and between 1970 and 1971 he exhibited two light works at Gallery A: Neon Light Installations (1970) and Luminal Sequences (1971).
Neon lighting is normally associated with outdoor signage, best seen after dark when city streets and ‘strips’ light up with the promise of night-time excitement. Kennedy’s minimalist use of the medium inside a gallery, divorced from words and imagery, retains the stained-glass allure of neon and gives the viewer a contemplative experience of colour which is perhaps closer to being inside a cathedral than outside a casino. Kennedy described the work as ‘a volume of light, but it had a very specific effect – a certain physiological effect. It was quite calming and restorative. The windows were blacked out and the space felt like being inside a rainbow, although without the precise differentiation of the colours of the spectrum. Quite different, of course, from our normal experience of seeing neon signage in the distance or against a night sky’.
Text steht nur auf Englisch zur Verfügung https://www.mca.com.au/artists-works/works/2004.50A-N/ (11.08.2021)