Neon Artist Cerith Wyn Evans Is Making Statements at the Tate Britain

Give Cerith Wyn Evans two kilometres of neon tubing, and this is what he can do.

While he strolled the spacious halls at the Tate Britain as a security guard in the 1980s, Cerith Wyn Evans must have dreamed of filling the neoclassical Duveen Galleries with his future work. What he couldn’t have known then is that, one day, his art would also animate Instagram accounts from London to Sydney.

It’s easy to see why Wyn Evans’ Forms in Space … by Light (in Time) went viral as it surged through the museum’s central hall earlier this summer. From a quiet neon oculus that hung like a trapeze inside the foyer, the installation appeared to lunge past the original columned archways in starbursts, swoops and scribbles. You’d be forgiven for seeing the trajectory of a dancer in these dazzling gyrations; to get the gestures right, the artist studied choreology, the art of notating dance moves.

Wyn Evans’ other sources of inspiration are wide-ranging and include Marcel Duchamp’s sculpture The Large Glass, Japanese Noh theatre and the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator. A keen polymath, the Welsh artist and filmmaker has often employed neon tubing to spin his more esoteric notions into seductive icons. For Forms in Space, he used nearly two kilometres of the material and employed 25 workers over 19 days to install it. The work involved hundreds of adhesive discs, complex joints and electrical cables shooting down from the skylights. On a dreary day, the installation radiates a pure, northern light that’s more satisfying to inhabit than to simply swipe past.

Here is to bringing back a dying art and creating something beautiful!

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