press release

Cerith Wyn Evans
"....the Illuminating Gas" October 31, 2019–February 23, 2020

Pirelli HangarBicocca presents “....the Illuminating Gas”, the largest-ever solo exhibition of Cerith Wyn Evans—conceived as a harmonious composition in which light, energy, and sound offer visitors a unique synesthetic experience. 25, ranging from earlier pieces to new creations, are installed in the exhibition spaces of Pirelli HangarBicocca as elements in an elaborate visual score.

Cerith Wyn Evans (Llanelli, Wales, United Kingdom, 1958; lives and works between London and Norwich) began his career on London’s alternative art scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and is one of the most acclaimed British artists of recent decades, creating sculptures, installations, photographs, and site-specific or performative interventions. Wyn Evans’s research focuses on language and perception, and is characterized by the use of ephemeral elements such as light and sound, the use of montage as a compositional technique, and the imaginative potential of the word, as well as the centrality of the temporal and durational dimension in the experience of a work.

In their elegance and formal balance, the works draw on a complex body of references and quotations—from literature, music, philosophy, photography, poetry, art history, astronomy and science—that transform the culture of the 20th and 21st centuries into a dynamic system that needs to be deciphered. The subjects examined relate to perception, to the potential of language and communication, and to the evocative power of art and its ability to create collisions between different meanings and thoughts—exploring the borders between what is visible and invisible to the naked eye, and between the material and the immaterial.

Pirelli HangarBicocca’s new exhibition, "....the Illuminating Gas", curated by Roberta Tenconi and Vicente Todolí, presents twenty-five works—earlier sculptures, complex monumental installations, and new productions—occupying the 5.500 square meters of the Navate and the Cubo sections of Pirelli HangarBicocca. The exhibition opens with the slow and constant throbs of seven imposing light columns, StarStarStar/Steer (totransversephoton) (2019). Made specifically for the occasion, and consisting of a skeleton of tubular lamps assembled from cylinders of various heights, the work creates a choreography of lights and shadows that intermittently invades the space. All of the elements along the Navate are suspended and form an elaborate visual score conceived by the artist. As if in a concert, the 13 neon sculptures of the series Neon Forms (after Noh) (2015-2019) engage in a dialogue with the mile-long tangle of lines and luminous curves of Forms in Space... by Light (in Time) (2017), a work originally conceived for the Duveen Galleries of the Tate Britain in London and presented in Milan in a new configuration.

A mixed selection of displays is presented in the Cubo, including ethereal neon signs, suspended mobiles and sound installations arranged in a harmonious balance. Visitors are greeted by installations conceived as a personal and subjective sensory experience: E=C=L=I=P=S=E (2015), C=O=N=S=T=E=L=L=A=T=I=O=N (I call your image to mind) (2010), S=U=T=R=A (2017), Mantra (2017), Still life (In course of arrangement...) V (2015), and finally T=R=A=N=S=F=E=R=E=N=C=E (Frequency shifting paradigms in streaming audio) (2015).

The exhibition design also incorporates the external architecture of Pirelli HangarBicocca by presenting TIX3 (1994), the artist's first neon work—consisting of the word ‘exit’ spelled back to front.

The title of the exhibition "....the Illuminating Gas" evokes the key element of the show: light, in particular to the neon gas that becomes incandescent when crossed by electric energy. In addition, it pays homage to Marcel Duchamp’s final work, Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, a piece that the French artist worked on for 20 years between 1946 and 1966.