1 / 5       Desert Isle Motel, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1979. Courtesy of Luïscius. © Rencontres Arles.

2 / 5       Motel Holiday, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1979. Avec l’aimable autorisation de Luïscius. © Rencontres Arles.

3 / 5       Dururing the list to the exhibition American Neon Signs by Day and Night by Toon Michiels. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

4 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition American Neon Signs by Day and Night by Toon Michiels. © Stefania Biamonti/FPmag.

5 / 5       During the visit to the exhibition American Neon Signs by Day and Night by Toon Michiels. © FPmag.

USA Neon Night & Day

A retro passion with an American taste is what seems to animate the first choices of the new artistic director of the Rencontres Sam Stourdzé who, thanks to the collaboration with Christian Baks and Erik Kessels, proposes an exhibition if going by the set up as a little poor at the Église des Trinitaires.
Arranged in diptychs, the images created by Toon Michiels show – with a rigour that pushed Frits Gierstberg to compare this job to the maniacal photographic approach of the Bechers – the dual aspect of an American landscape of the seventies that turns from day to night thanks to the switching on of neon lights. With a cleanliness which identified, always by Gierstberg, a further possibility of comparison with the Walker Evans of the period between the two world wars, in which Michaels seems to inherit a fascination with the word in the iconic text.
As anonymous sculptures, the neon narrates stories of reflection for society and everyday life that cross America in the seventies. As a graphic designer Michiels is certainly attracted to the power of the sign and the clean composition that detonates the perfect match of shapes between the image where, by day, you have the structure and the environment within which are inserted the neon and that in which, at night, the traces of contextualisation disappear and the coloured lines show themselves, almost as a kind of negative of the real one, in their splendour. The absence of the supporting structures and the place deleted by the dark enhance the primary function of the neon and highlight the substratum that produced them, a mixture of pop culture and pure commercial attitude.
Inadequate, really, the set up on the light coloured walls where the diptychs seem to drown, probably too small compared to the size of the exhibition context. The only glimmer, the reproduction on the short opposite walls of the room, of two images in an immersive gigantic format. Not enough to ease the judgement at the edition stage. Pity, because dealt with, in the right way this exhibition offers much deeper reflections than one might expect in a first superficial vision. [ S. I. ]

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AMERICAN NEON SIGNS BY DAY AND NIGHT
by Toon Michiels
Église des Trinitaires | until September 6th, 2015
admission fee: 9,00 €
VISIT THE FPMAG INSTAGRAM PAGE

published on 2015-07-08 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

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