Franklin Azzi's halo light is a heavenly blend of art and engineering

French architect Franklin Azzi recently created a heavenly light installation which looks like a floating halo for the Genius Loci exhibition at Gio Ponti’s villa L’Ange Volant.

Named LE SAINT, the apparently gravity-defying light installation made out of neon and steel appears to float in the air as if by magic. Although in reality, it is the result of careful planning, the hard work of skilled craftsmen, and a rejection of the boundaries which divide different creative disciplines. The result is a striking and divine installation that offers a "lyrical salute" to the villa it is suspended by.

Created for an exclusive series of immersive exhibitions called Genius Loci, LE SAINT, along with other specially commissioned pieces, aims to provide "a dialogue between architecture, design and contemporary art." Each edition in the Genius Loci series provides an insight into a private residence of exceptional artistic note by revealing its spirit through the works of the participating artists.

In the case of LE SAINT, it was suspended outside L’Ange Volant, a villa conceived by architect, painter and designer Gio Ponti for the Bouilhet family and built in 1927. Taking its cue from the name of the villa, which translates as "the flying angel", the light installation beckons audiences with its elegance and discretion.

"It does not impose itself, diffusing its luminous aura into the sky, composing a visual beacon towards which everything converges," says Domitille d’Orgeval, art critic and exhibition curator. "Positioning itself halfway between art and engineering, LE SAINT is an illustration of Franklin Azzi’s deep-rooted appreciation of minimalism."

Calling to mind the neon structures of Dan Flavin and the aesthetics of Donald Judd, LE SAINT demonstrate Franklin's awareness of size and space that has been honed during his career as an architect. The minimalist fabrication behind LE SAINT frees it from all subjectivity and means that it does not clutter or overshadow the villa itself.

The ring itself was made by artist metalworkers Dunod Mallier, and the steel itself is a compound that allows for the best balance of lightness and resilience. Craftsmen glass blowers Vito Enseignes made the filiform neon tubes which were subtly inserted into the metal band in four parts, while C&E Ingénierie analysed the distribution of forces so LE SAINT could be safely hung in the trees at a height of three meters.

Finally, the piece was installed by abseilers from Hévéa. As well as their agility in manoeuvring between the trees, they had to make individual adjustments for each tree depending on its species and form.


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