Cerith Wyn Evans (b. 1958)

Degrees of Blindness (1988)

Cerith Wyn Evans (British, b.1958) was born in Llanelli, Wales. He studied Fine Art at the Saint Martins School of Art in London, and graduated in 1980. Four years later, he completed an MA in Film and Video at the Royal College of Art. For a period of time, he served as an assistant to Derek Jarman (English, 1942–1994), an English filmmaker, scenographer, and painter. Evans made experimental short films through the 1980s.

The artist works in a variety of media including film, photography, sculpture, and installation. Evans has used unusual and eccentric materials, such as fireworks, light fixtures, neon lights, lanterns, Morse code, plants, mirror balls, and even urine, to express and explore his ideas on language and perception. His first solo exhibition was called Inverse Reverse Perverse and was held at the White Cube Gallery in London. This gallery continues to represent him in the United Kingdom to this day. One of his most striking and publicized works was an installation at the Venice Biennale, where he used a British World War II searchlight to tap out the poem of a 17th century Welsh bard, Ellis Wynne, in Morse code. The poem, Visions of a Sleeping Poet, was visualized as a Morse code light show, for which Evans had to obtain clearance from the Italian authorities due to the risk it could cause to aircrafts. The piece was called Cleave 03 (Transmission, Vision of the Sleeping Poet) and was said to overshadow the greatest landmark in Venice, the silhouette of the Palladio Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Another of the artist’s famous works is a sculpture consisting of a large concave mirror, which was hung on the wall and distorted the image of the viewer.

Evans's aesthetic is highly refined, and he uses his great interest in film history and literature as inspirations for his work. Much of his work portrays romantic longing and desire, such as his Firework pieces, which are wooden structures that spell out open-ended texts that burn over a period of time. His Chandelier sculptures once again use Morse code: sections of texts are translated into the code and visualized with flashing light signals. Evans was commissioned by the Vienna State Opera in 2011 to design the safety curtains for the 2011 to 2012 opera season. He has held exhibitions recently at Kunsthall Bergen in 2011, Tramway in Glasgow in 2009, Inverleith House in Edinburgh in 2009, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2006, and Kunsthaus Graz in 2005. He has also participated in the International Istanbul Biennial in 2005, the Yokohama Triennale in 2008, the Alchi Triennale in 2010, and the Moscow Biennial in 2011. Evans currently lives in London, and is represented in Europe by Daniel Buchholz Gallery in Cologne and Galeri NEU in Berlin.