Critics’ Picks

View of “Grace to be born and live as variously as possible . . . ,” 2012.

View of “Grace to be born and live as variously as possible . . . ,” 2012.

Hong Kong

Cerith Wyn Evans

White Cube | Hong Kong
50 Connaught Road
September 28–November 17, 2012

The title of Cerith Wyn Evans’s current solo exhibition in Hong Kong, “Grace to be born and live as variously as possible . . . ,” references the inscription on poet Frank O’Hara’s tombstone in Springs, New York. The line is from O’Hara’s poem “In Memory of My Feelings,” which is dedicated to the AbEx painter Grace Hartigan. It begins: “My quietness has a man in it, he is transparent / and he carries me quietly, like a gondola, through the streets.” This disarming image sets the tone for the exhibition, which has a calm and uncanny quality to it. Aspects of these works do not announce themselves immediately.

Wyn Evans explores ways of seeing and hearing by using materials and strategies he’s employed in previous works: light fixtures, plants, neon, and literary references. In the gallery’s first-floor space, four chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Each fixture flickers at its own tempo, programmed to do so in sync with an unheard song or adagio. Gift, 2012, is the visual representation of a movement from Mahler’s Symphony no. 5., while We are in Yucatan and every unpredicted thing, 2012, pulses along with the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

Equally as enigmatic on initial viewing is the neon work Subtitle, 2010, which is mounted on a wall next to a staircase. The text is rendered backward, and reads: THOUGHTS UNSAID, NOW FORGOTTEN . . . . Subtitle becomes complete once the viewer gazes into a nearby window; it is then that the words, reflected in the glass, appear correctly, floating like an apparition over a busy Hong Kong street. The exhibition demands one’s full focus, bringing to mind the title of a 2006 Wyn Evans installation that could very well serve as an instruction for how to view the show: “Please pay attention mother fucker.”