Cerith Wyn Evans's artistic practice focuses on how ideas can be communicated through form. His conceptual work incorporates a diverse range of media including installation, sculpture, photography, film and text.
Wyn Evans began his career as a filmmaker producing short, experimental films and collaborative works but since the 1990s has created artworks that focus on language and perception, with a precise clarity towards their manifestation in space. He employs strategies of exhibition making that are often site-specific, viewing exhibitions as a catalyst to produce a reservoir of possible meanings and discursive experiences.
His poetic work has a highly refined aesthetic, deeply informed by film, music, literature and philosophy. Visual or textual sources and ideas are often repeated across different bodies of work, an indication of his desire to keep ideas in play or to bring them back to life as raw material for future use. His works harness the potential of language to create moments of rupture and delight, where desire and reality conjoin, visible in his series of ‘Firework’ sculptures, for example, where wooden structures spell out open-ended texts and fleetingly burn over a designated period of time. These performative sculptures which exist only as a durational event, take on new life when documented through photographs or film. Likewise, in an ongoing series of neon text sculptures, he uses favourite passages of text or the subtitles from films to create open-ended, powerful sculptures that create a retinal after-image in the viewer's mind, long after their initial encounter.
Wyn Evans's work attempts to rupture existing systems of communication – either through the practice of subverting certain given material forms, disrupting spatial-temporal coordinates, or adopting a communal rather than singular authorial voice. In various film and slide installations, such as The Curves of the Needle (2003), for example, he manipulates sound to form a parallel ‘text’ to the visuals, where meaning is opened up by the unexpected slippage that occurs when the soundtrack is dislodged, changed or removed. His series of chandelier sculptures transform various forms of these potent symbols of material wealth – whether minimal, modernist masterpieces or coloured, Venetian glass antiques – into transmitters of flickering morse code. The code, which is dictated by an adjacent computer, is a translation of a text, fills the room with a captivating dance of light and shadow that appears like some kind of otherworldly communication.
Cerith Wyn Evans was born in 1958 in Wales and lives and works in London. He has exhibited extensively including solo exhibitions at Pirelli HangarBicocca (2019); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2018); Tate Britain, London (2017); Museion, Bolzano, Italy (2015); The Serpentine Gallery, London (2014); TBA-21 Augarten, Vienna (2013); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2011); Tramway, Glasgow (2009); Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2009); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2008); Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (2006); and Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2005). He has participated in the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); 4th Moscow Biennale (2011); 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture (2010); 1st Aichi Triennale, Japan (2010); 3rd Yokohama Triennale, Japan (2008); 9th Istanbul Biennial (2005); and 50th Venice Biennale (2003).