Large or Small, Gun Gordillo’s Neon Sculptures Buzz with Delight
Gun Gordillo has been working with colorful strands of light for more than 25 years, during which time her bewitching neon sculptures have appeared in international galleries and a fantastic array of public installations. To both practices, the Swedish-born artist brings a sense of whimsy and, as has been said, an optimistic worldview, making her work uniquely suited to public display.
Among her large-scale public installations and architectural collaborations is that of Hötorget station, a node in Stockholm’s subway network, sections of which preserve the natural texture of underground rock formations. At Hötorget, skinny neon squiggles adorn the polished ceiling, their light bouncing and scattering across the station tiles. The success of her work often relies on this sensitivity to scale and the reflective properties of architectural space.
In Copenhagen, where Gordillo is now based, she designed a tremendous jumble of blue neon. Hanging in a building’s atrium, it was visible from the street. In the same city, she twisted her lights to rise and fall from the depths of a river, creating long reflective trails of color.
To see Gordillo’s work in a gallery context is to break down such massive endeavors and isolate their individual parts. “In Light,” a recent show at Last Resort in Copenhagen, offered a range of Gordillo’s more intimate works, which nevertheless tend to be imbued with the same playfulness as her urban-scale sculptures. Yet these loops and twists, taken alone and affixed to a gallery wall, appear more anthropomorphic and loose, the thin lines of neon resembling half-finished line drawings rendered in blues and reds. These tiny gestures help put Gordillo’s practice in perspective: Rather than simply sculpting neon, she’s better considered a painter who uses light as her medium.