Cerith Wyn Evans puts the concept of mechanism through its paces in White Cube show
The Welsh artist’s latest exhibition is a captivating continuation of his exploration of transcendence, translation and temporality
Throughout his practice, Cerith Wyn Evans has deconstructed and pushed the concept of language, light and sound to its limits. His latest show, ‘No realm of thought...No field of vision’ at White Cube Bermondsey, which runs in tandem with Wyn Evans’ largest solo show to date at Milan’s Pirelli HangarBicocca, proves why he is one of contemporary art’s most respected.
Drawing on the thematic potential and erotic resonance of mechanised sculptures from the 20th century combined with present-day innovations, this new body of work is an amalgamation of the artist’s inspirations, interpretations and self-reflections. Interweaving different trains of thought on the subject of mechanism, installations are suspended, obscured and mirrored, forming a captivating yet disorientating experience. Consisting of 25 sculptures utilising the mediums of light, text, glass and paint, the exhibition sees Wyn Evans inject meticulous detail into every individual piece.
Channeling Duchamp and other 20th-century artists, much of the show evokes an emotive sense of reflection and uncertainty over our own physical futures – works point to key moments in our human understanding of mechanism and are displayed using autonomous technology. In Composition of flutes, 11 crystal flutes are played through by two mechanical ‘breathing’ units suspended from ceiling with threads and cable.
Wyn Evans’ relationship to language is of continual fascination, and the artist has consistently constructed environments to explore its notions. Here, he uses language to create multiple veils, both linguistic and physical. An architectural wall of neon sculpture – a Wyn Evans specialty – partially obscures a selection of works behind. The wall features a passage from Marcel Proust’s novel À la recherche du temps perdu translated into Japanese kanji.
Elsewhere, the artist uses new mediums to confront the exhibition’s themes: Still life (In course of arrangement)...VI is two rotating pleached trees placed against each other and lit by spotlights, referencing the earliest forms of mechanised moving images. A dedication to his own practice is what makes Wyn Evans’ White Cube show so compelling, looking not only to art and humanity’s mechanical past but also drawing from his own to look forward. §