Image: Cerith Wyn Evans, So to speak, 1998, Installation 'La Ville, le Jardin, la Mémoire 1998-2000', The French Academy at Rome, Villa Medici, Rome © Cerith Wyn Evans, Courtesy White Cube
Cerith Wyn Evans was born in Llanelli, Wales in 1958. He studied at St Martins School of Art and the Royal College of Art, both in London. In 2003 he represented Wales in the first Welsh Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
As a conceptual artist, Wyn Evans creates works that find beauty in the tension between solid architectural forms and intangible elements such as neon light, fireworks and song lyrics. At the beginning of his career, he worked as an assistant to the experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman, collaborating with him on music videos for bands such as The Smiths and Pet Shop Boys – and he continues to make film, alongside sculpture and photography. Wyn Evans often embeds narratives within his work, rich in philosophical, literary and film references, although he keeps them open-ended and their exact meanings hidden. In certain works, the inability to fully understand what is being communicated is shown to be beautiful, such as in his ‘Chandelier’ pieces, in which the majestic ornaments translate texts into flashes of Morse code.
The presence and absence of language is further explored in his piece So to Speak (1998). Using neon light, a recurring element in his practice, this minimal sculpture features punctuation rather than text. The two, floating apostrophes turn anything between them into a quotation; a view might become a phrase, even an expanse of blank wall, suggestive of silence.