On Wednesday, 30 September 2009, Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma will open the autumn season with an exhibition of new works by the British artist Cerith Wyn Evans. In the gallery’s two spaces in the center of Rome, the show will feature newly made drawings, paintings, neons, and sculptural pieces using mirror.
Born in Llanelli, Wales, in 1958, Wyn Evans grew up speaking Welsh. He graduated in film and video from the Royal College of Art in London in 1984, and soon after began working as an assistant to filmmaker Derek Jarman. He made his own short, experimental films, which were screened throughout Europe, and began to collaborate with artists and friends like the choreographer Michael Clark, the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and the musical group The Smiths. During this period, he was also a frequent sitter for the painter Lucian Freud.
His work shifted direction in the early 1990’s, when Wyn Evans began to explore the phenomenology of language, perception, and communication. He began a series of works where large hanging chandeliers ‘read’ texts in flashing Morse code by philosophers and poets whose ideas interested him (Guy Debord, William Blake, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, among others). He began to use neon (a famous early work is a sign that spells EXIT backwards) and fireworks to literally illuminate certain phrases or texts. He made a firework text on the site of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s murder at Ostia, near Rome, setting ablaze lines of dialogue from the filmmaker’s Oedipus Rex.
For this exhibition in Rome, Wyn Evans melds seemingly disparate cultural practices like Japanese calligraphy and Italian graffiti into a range of media that reflects his multi-faceted interests. To emphasize this, he is turning the gallery into a hall of mirrors, with large and small mirrored columns that bounce light around the space. This play on surface is further pursued in a group of works on paper, which are punctured by cut-out letters of the alphabet, through which the wall behind is seen. He also plays with mass-produced and mass-marketed images; in a series of silver-on-silver “paintings”, he uses photographs from 1970s erotic Japanese magazines, rendering them opaque and virtually impossible to decipher, but adding immensely to their glamour.
Cerith Wyn Evans has participated in solo and important group exhibitions, at institutions around the world, such as: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2004), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004), Istanbul Biennial (2005), Bawag Foundation, Vienna (2005), Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2006), Yokohama Biennale (2008), Venice Biennale (1995, 2003 and 2009), and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009). He currently lives and works in London.