Working primarily with neon lights, Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans creates monumental sculptures that often incorporate text and examine the various forms of translation between language, sound, and medium while engaging with notions of perception.Read More
Cerith Wyn Evans studied in London, graduating from St Martin's School of Art in 1980 and receiving an MA in Film and Video from the Royal College of Art in 1984. Early in his career, the artist created experimental films while working as an assistant to film director Derek Jarman and working on various collaborative projects. Wyn Evans began to explore installation and sculpture in the 1990s, developing a practice that focuses on language and the expression of form and space.
In his text-based neon sculptures, Cerith Wyn Evans examines the translation of languages and the transmutation of text into sculpture. Therein he references the work of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and Marcel Proust, as with F=O=U=N=T=A=I=N (2020): a wall of white neon lights that feature a Japanese translation of a paragraph from Proust's Sodom and Gomorrah (1921–1922). Exhibited at the artist's solo show No realm of thought... No field of vision at London's White Cube in 2020, the text would have been illegible to the majority of the audience, despite its clarity.
Cerith Wyn Evans also explores ideas of legibility by engaging with different forms of communication systems, often engineering lights to emanate differently according to Morse code or music. The pair of glass chandeliers in S=U=T=R=A (2017), for example, emit light that matches two piano scores composed and played by the artist, while in StarStarStar/Steer (totransversephoton) (2019) tall columns are erected close to one another, pulsating light to evoke an immersive environment.
Wyn Evans is also known for his scribble-like neon lines and curves that intervene in space. His 'Neon Forms (after Noh)' (2015–2019) series traces the movements of actors of the Japanese Noh theatre form, transmuting the otherwise ephemeral acts into a concrete shape. Forms in Space...by Light (in Time), commissioned by Tate Britain in 2017, is a similarly expressive monumental sculpture suspended from the ceiling.
In addition to featuring Cerith Wyn Evans' characteristic neon lights, which twist and spiral, Forms in Space...by Light (in Time) featured three skewed concentric discs that directly reference Marcel Duchamp's 'Oculist Witnesses', which appear in works by the French artist such as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915–1923).
Wyn Evans was the winner of the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture 2018 for Composition for 37 Flutes (in two parts): a suspended sculpture consisting of two glass rings spiked with glass flutes. Each ring, connected to a mechanical lung, produces a humming sound through the instruments.
In 2019, Milan's Pirelli HangarBicocca presented ...the Illuminating Gas: a major solo exhibition of Cerith Wyn Evans artworks from the 1990s on. The artist has also participated in the Venice Biennale twice: in 2003, when he represented Wales in its first-ever pavilion; and in 2017 as part of the 57th International Art Exhibition, Viva Arte Viva.
...Being and Neonthingness, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne (2020); No realm of thought... No field of vision, Pola Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan (2020); Cerith Wyn Evans, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2018); Radiant fold (...the Illuminating Gas), National Museum Wales, Cardiff (2018); Flare/shrine, Michael Lett, Auckland (2016); Cerith Wyn Evans, White Cube, London (2015); Cerith Wyn Evans, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2014).
No Dandy, No Fun, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2020); 40,000: A Museum of Curiosity, 14th Fellbach Triennial, Germany (2019); Memory Palace, White Cube, London (2018); Soziale Fassaden, Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt (2018); DRAG: Self-portraits and Body Politics, Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Musicirus, Centre Pompidou-Metz, France (2016).
Cerith Wyn Evans lives and works in London. In 2011 he was commissioned by the Vienna State Opera to design the safety curtains for 2011-2012 opera season. Recent solo exhibitions include Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2014), Kunsthall Bergen (2011), Tramway, Glasgow (2009), Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2009), MUSAC, Leon (2008), Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris (2006) and Kunsthaus Graz (2005). In 2009 he collaborated with Florian Hecker and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary on No night No day at the 53rd Venice Biennale and has also particpated in the Moscow Biennial (2011), Aichi Triennale (2010), the Yokohama Triennale (2008), the International Istanbul Biennial (2005) and the Venice Biennale (2003).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020