This week Bracey’s first UK solo exhibitions opens in central London, presenting a series of his neon pieces themed around heaven and hell, including a site-specific window installation of a dagger smashing through the window into a neon heart.
Scream Gallery says the show will be an ‘immersive experience’, with Bracey creating a ‘sense of theatricality’ and implicitly raising ‘questions about morality, spirituality and their role in society.’
Bracey’s art career began to flourish as a youngster when he was shown the neon ropes by his father, who made neon signs predominantly for fairgrounds and amusement arcades.
It’s fitting that the show is a stone’s throw from Soho: much of his work is inspired by the vibrant, sometimes seedy, always surprising streets of the area. It was in Soho where Bracey’s work really came into its own. Confident that his neon design designs would inject a rejuvenated sense of glitz and intrigue to the area, Bracey set about creating designs for a number of Soho venues.
Since then, he’s worked on commissions from clients such as artist and photographer David LaChapelle, Stella McCartney, Martin Creed and Vivienne Westwood. He has also created installations for films such as Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Batman films.
Much of his own work is inspired by pop culture and iconography, tattoos, evocative statements and ‘a lexicon of retro texts and references’, according to Scream, and he frequently salvages old lights from fairgrounds, film props and vintage signs to re-work into sculpture pieces.
‘Like any work of art, it’s got spirit, says Bracey, of his beloved neon medium. ‘Neon is only happy when it’s on, when it’s alive’.
Chris Bracey: I’ve looked up to heaven and been down to hell, runs from 12 April – 1 June at Scream, 27 – 28 Eastcastle Street, London W1W