Sir Paul Smith, image courtesy of Chris Levine and The Fine Art Society
Canadian born Chris Levine is best described as a pioneer in the field of light art. In recent years, his distinguished subjects have ranged from the Dali Lama to Grace Jones. But there is one standout piece for which he is perhaps best known – Her Majesty the Queen, ‘Lightness of Being’. Taken in 2012 and featured in The National Portrait Gallery’s ‘The Queen Art and Image’ exhibit, it has been described by some critics as one of the most iconic images of a royal taken by any artist this century. High praise indeed!
Photo courtesy of Chris Levine
Levine, who now lives and works in Northamptonshire, graduated from Central Saint Martin’s School of Art in the 80s with an MA in computer graphics. Since then, he has worked extensively with laser light, exploring its capacity to both produce illusions and elicit a subliminal response in the viewer and has pioneered new mediums such as light boxes, holograms, and lenticular lenses, creating new mechanisms and technologies to express his ideas.
It is this marriage of art and photography, which sets Levine apart. Look a little closer at each familiar face staring back at you in his current show ‘Who are wE_+’ at The Fine Art Society’s Bond Street space and you will see the painstaking detail into which the artist goes to unlock each sitter’s ‘inner light’. For instance, a colour portrait of Kate Moss (print, £9,000) or light box (£42,000) is composed entirely of small dot matrices filtered to represent the particles of energy that make up her body. A series of Naomi Campbell images, also available to purchase as a lenticular light box (£42,000) or as inkjet prints (£3,000), is the result of interlacing multiple images taken on a track and motion camera, from a variety of angles, to create the illusion of depth and dimension.
Images courtesy of Chris Levine and The Fine Art Society
Personally, I find the large holographic image of Sir Ranulph Fiennes – the sheer scale of the celebrated British explorer’s face, which beams out at you in 3-D effect, a little unnerving. In contrast, there are more jovial portraits of Sir Paul Smith. Available as a black and white lenticular print (£11,400) or as a light box (£33,600), Levine captures the inner glow of another of our national treasures spectacularly well.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, image courtesy of The Fine Art Society
Of his latest headshots Levine says: “Increasingly the direction and enquiry of my work is leading me to the ultimate realisation that we are beings of energy. The question of who we are is a mystery I feel is beyond our bandwidth of perception. My objective in creating a portrait is to get closer to the soul and in so doing express the Truth of who we really are.”
‘Who are wE_+’ runs until May 19th at The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street