Visual artist, Chris Levine uses an array of lasers, optics and LEDs as well as natural light to create his alluring images. Rising to prominence in 2004 with his portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Lightness of Being (which is currently touring the country as part of The Queen: Art and Image through the National Portrait Gallery), he won praise from Creative Review, world news stations and was applauded by photographer extraordinaire himself, Mario Testino who said his portrait is “the most beautiful image of the Queen I have ever seen.” We Q+A Chris – who this week opened his solo show, “Selected Works” at The Little Black Gallery in London – about his work, The Queen and his upcoming project with Anthony Hegarty.
What is your earliest memory of art?
I have distinct memories of a robot and plane drawn on blue paper that my mother gave to me when I was in hospital having an operation when I was 3. They were wondrous to me and are my earliest memory.
How did you get involved in the art world?
It was a evolutionary step from the world of graphic design and image making. Somehow I’m more free today.
When did you realise you could make a career from it?
I never questioned it despite having been through several feast and famine cycles.
What are your main inspirations in making art?
The nature of light and all it represents..
What was the selection process for the “Selected Works” exhibition at The Little Black Gallery?
We wanted to show some highlight pieces from my career. Not a retrospective. But nodding that way.
Your portrait of the Queen has been highly praised – how does it feel to be given such support?
I could never have imagined the impact Lightness of Being would have but its very gratifying. It was a soulful expression and that’s why it resonated. The image is worthy of all it’s attention.
What is your interest in the Queen?
I think the Queen is a truly extraordinary lady and I’m proud to have been humbly connected with her.
You’re work focuses on light – what are your most uplifting thoughts?
The joy my children bring me.
What are your darkest thoughts?
I can’t put things like that into words.
Your working with Anthony Hegarty – what can you tell us about that project?
I’m developing the iy_project with the Eden Project. My collaboration with Antony is an extension of that work where we believe we are tapping into the power and magic of living beauty. We are doing a show presented by MoMA in New York in January and I’m very excited about it. It will be unlike anything people have seen before.
Chris Levine: Selected Works is at The Little Black Gallery, 13A Park Walk, London, SW10 0AJ, until November 26th 2011.