The winning light

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Chris Levine is a light artist, otherwise known as the Golden Boy for his intuitive Midas touch that both illuminates his subjects and captures their essential glow. Recognised for his pioneering light art that harnesses the delicate colours of laser light to create emotive and mind-altering pieces, such as the Flower of Light, his series of 3-D portraits of a very select group of subjects has given us the defining 21st century version of the portrait and icon.

Created through a layering of sequential images which are then covered by a  lenticular lens and back lit, these light boxes move beyond the static tradition of a portrait – creating moments of transcendent eternity somehow pausing their essential glow. The list is unique, beginning with Grace Jones; he then took a defining portrait of HRM The Queen with her eyes closed, followed by the legendary Kate Moss, giving us the ultimate image of a hyper photographed face.

Having worked exclusively with female subjects it was a logical progression for Levine to find a male – but he has done this brilliantly by jumping into an entirely different tradition of portraiture altogether: equine. His subject is the legendary racehorse Frankel. If you were to compare this racehorse to an athlete he would be Hussein Bolt. No horse in the history of flat racing and has ever dominated the field with a succession of 14 wins of different distances.

Owned by Kahlid Abdullah and named after the late American trainer Bobby Frankel, he was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil who lived to see his final and career defining win of the Champion Stakes at Ascot. “He is the best I’ve ever had, the best I’ve ever seen, I’d be surprised if there’s ever been better.” He told the BBC after the race. Setting a “New Benchmark of Equine Excellence” according to the World Thoroughbred Rankings Committee, he also resurrected the career of his trainer who had always done “everything by instinct”.

Sir Henry Richard Amhert Cecil was widely regarded a one of the greatest flat race horse trainers in history, a Champion Trainer 10 times at one point his stable was 200 strong. However at the turn of the century this number had shrunk to under 50 and until Frankel came along many had written the legendary trainer off into retirement. But instinct and passion burned bright and so it was that Frankel, the kind of horse who needed the type of trainer that Cecil was, who took his queues from the horse, found his perfect match.

What is most spectacular about Levine’s portrait, appropriately shown at the Fine Art Society who could easily source you a Stubbs, is how he captured Frankel in that winning pose. Neck stretched out as if he is crossing the finish line, Levine has immortalised him in his angle of glory. How he managed this is a blend of natural talent and great intuition – which completes this incredible story of winning gold. It also gives his exclusive catalogue of exceptional icons, Jones, HRH The Queen and Kate Moss, their very own horse to keep them company.

by Nico Kos Earle

Photographs at the private view by Justin van Vliet

Frankel is on display at The Fine Art Society Contemporary, 148 New Bond Street
London W1S 2JT
Tel +44 (0)20 7318 1895

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Glass Online arts writer

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