Renowned neon artist Chris Bleicher is one of the leading contemporary artists in Germany and among the most famous neon artists in the world. In November of 2017, she attended the Brussels art fair called “art3f art fair” where she held the distinction of being the ONLY neon artist in attendance. The show was successful for Chris, after the art fair three of her four artworks were brought to Spain.
Chris was extremely impressed with the city of Brussels and it’s thriving neon scene. In fact, neon installations are commonly displayed in public venues such as restaurants and subway stations. Although none of the neon pieces she saw was neon art per se, many were artistically styled to attract the public, such as a large neon orange lobster that was adhered to the side of a seafood restaurant.
“I was impressed to see so many shops like pharmacies, restaurants, toy stores, and more be lit up with beautiful and complex neon installation in their shop windows or fixed on the buildings,” Chris said and added that neon art is ALWAYS in fashion. “The neon art scene is not expanding because it is a complex medium to work in and it’s also cost intensive so many artists cannot afford it. For these reasons, there are only a few neon artists worldwide.”
Despite the lack of artists who are willing to experiment with neon art, Chris is very excited about the kind of work that she has been able to produce recently.
“What I’m creating now I would NOT have been able to do twenty years ago,” she explained. “It is all thanks to a lot of experience that I got from working with this medium. For example, the neon wall installation called GOLDEN SOUND WITH LOVE for the Premierenhaus in Erl (Austria) needed one year of production time with several specialized factories! All neon pieces are handmade by design of the neon artist and so the neon artist has to know not just how to design the shape of the neon for the neon producing factory–the design has to be done in a special way–but the artist also must know about safety instructions! This is the most important thing in my work…safety.”
Serving as an example of neon artwork creators, Chris was represented by Gallery Gaudí at the art3f art fair which was located in the Expo center and she enjoyed her time at the event–even though it was not without strife and controversy.
“I had a pretty good stay in Brussels but at the same time there was a fire at Brussels Central Station,” Chris explained. “I was close to it at one point and I wondered about the light grey smoke which covered the whole place since fire smoke is usually black! Later I read that the North and South line, which is the most important line, was closed for several hours on November 23. Then, on November 25, I was in my hotel with some other guests. At the same time there were lots of police in the city centre and even helicopters around. Later – but NOT in the German main stream media – it came out that there had been a riot!”
It turns out that the riot was against slavery in Libya and it was the third riot in two weeks. Most of the tension was between Muslim migrants and the Belgian police; one officer even ended up hospitalized after the incident. Many police vehicles and a number of local shops were also damaged. The hotel Chris was staying in was not in the most ideal of areas.
“I booked the hotel in hurry because I had lots of work to do after my journey to South Korea and didn’t research about save areas verses the NOT save areas in Brussels,” Chris explained. “The hotel I booked was in the city area of Anderlecht which is close to Molenbeek. Molenbeek is a part of Brussels that is NOT recommended to tourists. But even Anderlecht wasn’t the kind of area that women wanted to walk alone in after dark. Even getting from the hotel to the metro station was unnerving.”
Despite these issues, Chris had good experiences on the beautiful metro stations and also traveled quite a bit by car. She even discovered a Moroccan bakery with delicious sweets near to the art show. She also had a fantastic tie at the art fair and was especially intrigued by some larger pieces.
“I saw these amazing round-shaped pieces painted in an orange/red color with deer motifs on them,” she said. “There were many really good artists and many visitors but it was special that I was the sole neon artist in the show.”
Chris has a consistently busy schedule. She has a piece called “The Chicken in the Cockpit” on display in South Korea until December 29 as part of their “DiVeRsItY ???” exhibition. From there, she is actively planning other international exhibitions. Most prominently, in September of 2018, Chris will have her work displayed at ARTIFACT Gallery in New York City.