Lighting up the hallway at Abbot Hall is a striking, immaculate photograph of an Alpine mountainside illuminated by the incandescent flash of a magnesium flare. This brilliant new acquisition, presented to Lakeland Arts by the Contemporary Art Society, is by a young Swiss artist, Raphael Hefti, who has steadily been making a name for himself over the last few years. The photograph, entitled Disco No.7, is typical of the work of Hefti, which often takes an investigative, scientific approach to its subject matter but mixes it with a dash of daring and ‘what if’ experimentation. The results, however, are consistently beautiful.
And so to Disco No.7: a freezing night for Hefti and a team of helper-friends, a single chance to capture the magical moment when the exploding flare illuminates the mountainside like a giant celestial camera flash, the risk that things may not go according to plan (in fact, at one stage, Hefti blew up his car through the accidental detonation of explosive materials in the boot, resulting in his arrest). A maverick creative spirit combined with a probing scientific exactitude: these are the qualities of which great art is made.