● 18th March 2017 – ArtIn Print

Louis Sidoli creates iconic portraits with neon elements all encapsulated within a wood and aluminium bespoke frame to make stunning works of art. Most recently his work features the addition of neon bulbs blending with the imagery to create high octane pieces that evoke the electric characters of the celebrities he depicts.

Louis grew up on what he calls the ‘mean streets’ of Royal Leamington Spa, apart from a brief stint in London he has always been based in Warwickshire. His childhood was a happy one, growing up in an Anglo-Italian family in the 1970s/80s in what he calls an incredible period and a “high point of popular culture in western society. I soaked it all up from an early age and this has influenced my career as a pop artist.” Louis’s career has been shaped by various influences, he started out working in design for the car industry, including some brand consultancy for the board of Rolls Royce and Bentley cars. In this time he was able to interview their clients in focus groups for ‘in depth’ personal interviews.

“It was a real eye opening experience for me at the time. I spent a few months visiting all of these hugely successful and wealthy people, often in their own homes or businesses to talk about cars. The thing that really struck me was that in nearly all cases, they were not from rich backgrounds. Most were from working-class families and had become ‘self-made’ people. They had almost without exception worked hard and at some point taken big risks in their lives. It was this experience that lead me to take a big risk and leave my highly paid corporate job to become self-employed and pursue a more creative career.”

About 2 years ago Louis suffered from a pulmonary embolism as a result of a blood clot in his leg; he was extremely lucky to survive it and after lying in a hospital bed he thought to himself “shit! You think you have all the time in the world to do stuff, but in reality you don’t. So you had better crack on and do what you really want to do!” Feeling a sense of calling and inspiration, Louis began working with neon. He says; “it was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but it was this horrible experience that gave me a kick up the ass to actually try it.” For Louis, neon is something he has always been drawn to. “I associate neon with fun and the ‘good things in life’. It’s that whole big city / bright lights thing: bars, nightclubs, restaurants, casinos and sex clubs!”

Louis works with iconographic imagery with beautifully placed neon features on top of brushed aluminium. The works are put together with precision; he claims to be a perfectionist with a love of things of high quality, as he says “I would rather have just a few things that are top notch quality than loads of cheap crap!” As for creative rituals Louis states that he “can only be creative if I have cleared my desk of paperwork and ‘admin’. Personally I find it hard to get into the creative zone when you have a million and one other tasks piling up that need attention. I do a lot of research into my subject matter, that normally triggers ideas for the artwork.” As for inspiration, he cites those who are “unusual and think differently”. Fittingly, one of his most beloved subject matters at the moment is David Bowie, the original kook and crusader for all things weird and wonderful.

For the recent American election, Louis turned his attention briefly to politics and created two pieces  (one of Donald Trump and one of Hillary Clinton) that sparked debate over the maddening situations, discourse and disagreements the election created in all of us. “The Hillary and Trump pieces were fairly light hearted satirical pieces. With these I took the biggest weaknesses of both candidates and incorporated those messages into the artwork (Trump is crude and Hillary is corrupt). That is what satire is all about – finding the weaknesses in people and exposing them. I’m told by one of my galleries that the Trump piece has sold to a well known celebrity. Hillary hasn’t sold – I’m not surprised!” Louis sees himself as having a political voice and would like to do more work along this theme in the future;

“I’m a very political person… but there are pitfalls in that you can alienate people who like your work, but don’t share your views. I hate it when Hollywood celebrities with inflated egos like Meryl Streep give ‘lectures’ on politics. Why should anyone care what an actor thinks about politics? They are completely divorced from real life. They stand on stage and pretend to be  somebody else for a living for God’s sake!”

Louis currently works in a studio at the Jubilee Centre, most of his suppliers are based locally so logistically it makes sense rather than hiking out huge rents and supplier costs in London or elsewhere; Louis is bringing back art manufacturing to the city and it’s refreshing to see such talent residing here. For him the “workspaces are a God send for creatives and small businesses like me.” When I asked him what he loved most about the second city his answer was “Spaghetti Junction” – it must be those Italian roots!

Louis’s exhibits and sells his work exclusively through Castle Galleries: castlegalleries.com

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