Exhibition: Cerith Wyn Evans, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, until June 10 2012
There is never a bad time to visit the De La Warr Pavilion, the stunning modernist icon which sits like a majestic 1930s ocean liner above the beach at Bexhill.
But until June 10 it is a particularly good time to make the trip to the south coast. The gallery spaces have been stripped back, undivided for the first time and all the windows have been revealed, allowing visitors to enjoy the unrestricted glamour of the architecture and bask in the sunlight flooding in.
Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans, who describes his exhibition there as “a love letter to the building”, requested this unveiling. His works make reference to the environment and the setting and its panoramic views of the sea, sky and horizon.
The artist began his career as a filmmaker, working with Derek Jarman, then shifted his practice to sculpture and installation art. His work avoids any direct communication of meaning, and we are challenged to bring our own understanding to the show.
Much of Wyn Evans’ work stems from his interest in language and communication – often using texts from film, philosophy or literature. He is a cultural magpie, picking from sources as varied as Jimi Hendrix songs and French Marxist theorists.
On the opening night of the exhibition, a new text firework installation on the rooftop quoted from Hendrix’s Voodoo Child: “And if I don’t meet you no more in this world / Then I’ll, I’ll meet you in the next one, And don’t be late, don’t be late.”
The text glowed red against the dark sky for a minute before dying away, twinkling like stars, applauded by the crowd and then gone. Now the blackened stubs of the fireworks serve as a relic to the flames which burned brightly but so briefly.
On the ground floor, a neon text sculpture quotes from French Marxist writer and filmmaker, Guy Debord’s book: “We turn in the night, consumed by fire”. Could this be a reference to the rooftop conflagration? Cerith Wyn Evans is happy to let us make our own minds up.
The 13-metre long neon text reads: “Permit yourself to drift from what you are reading at this very moment into another situation…Imagine a situation that, in all likelihood, you’ve never been in”
The words are deliberately positioned along the horizon of the English Channel and are reflected in the gallery windows, fulfilling the artist’s desire to make the setting as important as the work.
In the same gallery, Mimosa (2012) displays three small living trees which rotate slowly. It is a gentle and mysterious piece, reminiscent of childhood stories of magical gardens.
The third work in this bright space is Untitled (Flute Piece Incarnation De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill), in which transparent flutes are suspended from the ceiling and fill the gallery with unearthly sounds.
In Gallery 2, on the first floor, S=U=P=E=R=S=T=U=C=T=U=R=E (“Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive’s overspill…”) is a light and heat installation of three huge columns which pulse independently of one another.
The experience will change from day to day, depending upon the weather and the temperature outside. The heat is intense when the filaments light up.
Our viewing of this work was enhanced by the interaction with The Poetry Jukebox, one of the free creative sessions which the De La Warr Pavilion is running on Saturday afternoons alongside the exhibition.
Inspired by the show’s themes of beauty, light, longing and transience, a poem is selected and performed live as we sit amid the glowing and dimming columns and gaze out to sea.
- Open 10am-5pm (6pm Saturday, 6pm Friday from May 1). Admission free (suggested donation £2).