Review of Cerith Wyn Evans at White Cube Bermondsey, London

It is the ebb and flow, contrasts and glow, that give Cerith Wyn Evans’ exhibition at White Cube its elegant electricity. In a response to the gallery’s architecture and in a gesture to reflect the world around us, the Welsh sculptor and filmmaker has produced new works that are as challenging and entertaining as they are intriguing and inspiring.

Site-specific and visually stunning, four neon sculptures are suspended from the ceiling. Their dynamic forms seemingly dance as they exude white light. Three of these sculptures have their movements derived from Japanese Noh theatre. The fourth, entitled The Illuminating Gas…(after Oculist Witnesses) is composed of three radial forms that are a recreation of Marcel Duchamp’s rounded Oculist Witnesses from his work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915–23). The three discs skew the visual plane as they play with perceptions and dimensions. However, one sculpture in particular in the far corner of the South Gallery stands apart from the other vivid sculptures. Instead of light-infused tubes are 19 transparent glass flutes that produce an euphonious sound as if the sculpture itself is breathing. According to Michel Foucault, this sculpture, “The Illuminating Gas […] systematically imposes a formless anxiety, diverging yet centrifugal, directed not toward the most withheld secrets but toward the imitation and the transmutation of the most visible forms: each word at the same time energised and drained, filled and emptied by the possibility of there being yet another meaning, this one or that one, or neither one nor the other, but a third, or none…”

On the ground, the presence of the plants placed throughout the gallery space offer an unexpected yet welcome differentiation of materials and textures. Spinning haphazardly at various speeds and directions, their movements complement and amplify the atmosphere in the gallery space.

Just outside the main gallery space Evans’ has overtaken in his immersive experience, he presents an improvised Morse code piece in the corridor. The ceiling light fixture was reconfigured to render in morse code the wall text, highlighting the otherwise hardly visible body of text. When illuminated, the narrative symbolically lights up the words as it reveals the transit of the moon during a solar eclipse.

The exhibition is dynamic, exemplifying Evans’ concepts of energy flow through material and immaterial conduits and implementing the translation of movement into notational form, according to the White Cube. Light, kinetics and sound are married in an amalgamated exploration of the visible and audible, form and formlessness, the valid and the void, and the transmittable.

The environment Evans has created taps into the perimeters of human consciousness as it invigorates the senses, whilst also settling the mind through its subtle beauty.

Ashton Chandler Guyatt

Cerith Wyn Evans, White Cube Bermondsey, until 15 November, London, SE1 3TQ.

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1. Cerith Wyn Evans, Solo exhibition, White Cube Bermondsey, London. 22 September – 15 November 2015 © Cerith Wyn Evans. Photo © White Cube (George Darrell).