Human beings have always been fascinated by light: from the sun, stars and moon to twinkling LEDs, glowing signage and even UFOs. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Light and Space art movement emerged. Based in and around Los Angeles, the group experimented with how geometric space and radiant light could impact human perception. In parallel, other creatives devoted themselves exclusively to neon – a material previously consigned to the world of advertising. Notable figures emerged such as Dan Flavin and Keith Sonnier, with more recent proponents including Tracey Emin, Martin Creed and Alfredo Jaar.
But there are lesser-known trailblazers in the field. New York-based Fred Tschida (b. 1949) is one such name. Introduced to neon by acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly, he has always “shied away from the spotlight” – preferring to pass on his knowledge as a university professor. Now, for the very first time, his work is on view in Europe. The Art House, Wakefield, has teamed up with Neon Workshops – the UK’s leading neon sculpture teaching studio – to host a luminous, hypnotic exhibition.
Titled CIRCLESPHERE, it includes seven gas-filled illuminated sculptures. The large glass forms, which skim the gallery ceilings, rotate steadily, shifting between two and three dimensions. In real time, they appear as revolving outlines. When viewed through long exposure photographs, they take on more tangible shapes. “A lot of people have problems with what doesn’t exist,” says Tschida. “But for me they’re finished and complete.” The series, Frederick Carder Vase Forms, is inspired by an English experimental glass designer of the same name. Located across two venues, CIRCLESPHERE will be accompanied by SPHERE, a huge moving circle, which will feature at 7A, Neon Workshops’ project space, filling the 3000-square-foot warehouse.
Artist and Neon Workshops founder Richard Wheater has been keen to introduce the world to Tschida’s work for 20 years, working with him as student-turned-collaborator. “There is so much more to neon than the signs that we see hanging in takeaways and shop windows, and I’m looking forward to giving people the opportunity to truly fall for neon and its elusive magic,” he explains.
29 September – 28 November. Find out more here.
1. Visitor Observing SPHERE, 2021. Neon, metal. ©Fred Tschida. Courtesy The Art House and Neon Workshops. Photo by David Lindsay.
2. Frederick Carder Vase Forms, No.s 8006-G, 164, 2021. Neon, wood, metal. ©Fred Tschida. Courtesy The Art House and Neon Workshops. Photo by David Lindsay.
3. Frederick Carder Vase Forms, No.s 8006-G, 2683-G, 7644-G, 2021. Neon, wood, metal. ©Fred Tschida. Courtesy The Art House and Neon Workshops. Photo by David Lindsay.