Cerith Wyn Evans

Automatic Ink Drawing, Kyoto 2008


Automatic Ink Drawing, Kyoto, 2008
Silkscreen print on paper
59.4 x 42 cm


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About the artwork 

This limited edition screen print on paper by Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans features abstract black marks on a rectangular sheet of white paper that has a circular hole cut into it.

The largest of the black marks are positioned in the center-left of the composition and broadly resembles a number seven. Further splatters of black appear in a roughly diagonal line across the left side of this form, and two circle-type shapes are visible below its tail. Unlike the scattered dots, which look as if they were applied when the larger shape was produced, these lower circles of black appear to be separate marks, giving the impression that they were added by means of an additionally isolated gesture.

Most of the work is made up of expanses of white, especially at the top, bottom and right side of the piece, where no marks have been applied to the composition. The neat circle that is cut out of the paper, lending the work a sense of depth and texture: the hole is cut through both the white paper and the large black mark so that the behind area becomes the ‘background’ and the white space appears to be a main feature of the drawing.

The title of the work consists of three components. Since undertaking a residency at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Kitakyushu, Japan, in 1998, Evans has been fascinated by Japanese culture and ink painting, and the words ‘Ink Drawing’ and ‘Kyoto’ in the title reflect the fact that the work was made using long, thin brushes and strokes that are traditionally associated with Japanese ink paintings. Secondly, although the work was created in 2008 Wyn Evans included the year 2011 in the title in brackets. The artist has added dates that are yet to come to the titles of several of his works, claiming in 2011 that ‘the implication is that either there has been some kind of typographical mistake or the piece has been made in the future’ (Wyn Evans in Obrist 2011, p.152). Finally, the word ‘Automatic’ refers to the practice of automatism that was popular with surrealist artists and writers during the first half of the twentieth century, a technique that involved writing, painting or drawing without conscious choice by allowing the hand to move freely and randomly across the page. The reference to this technique in the title for the print suggests that Wyn Evans produced the design without planning it, rather forming the composition as part of an instinctive creative process.

Automatic Ink Drawing, Kyoto (2011) was inspired by a set of drawings that the artist created after visiting Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in 1998 and seeing its collection of drawings made by Japanese and Chinese Zen Buddhists in the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. 

Although the artist was aware that the cultural significance of the Zen drawings in part relied on the words that were incorporated into them, he chose to see the elements of this ‘script’ purely as black forms on a white ground, making drawings that reflected this. As his work with this type of drawing progressed, Wyn Evans began to cut shapes into the paper that interacted with the forms on the page, stating in 2011 that ‘now I’ve started, in a more physical sense, to interrogate these pieces, so I’m cutting holes in them’ 

About the artist

Cerith Wyn Evans (b.1958) in Llanelli is a Welsh conceptual artist, sculptor, and film-maker. Starting his career in the late 1970s as a filmmaker, but the 1990s saw a shift in his work towards conceptual sculpture and installation art. Recent solo exhibitions include the Museo Tamayo (2018), Tate Britain Commission (2017), White Cube Bermondsey, London and the Museion Bolzano (both 2015); Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2014); TBA-21 Augarten, Vienna (2013); De La Warr Pavillion, East Sussex (2012); Kunsthall Bergen (2011); Tramway, Glasgow (2009); Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2009); MUSAC, Leon (2008); Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (2006) and Kunsthaus Graz (2005). He has also participated in the Venice Biennial (2017, 2010, 2003), Skulptur Projekte Münster (2017), Moscow Biennial (2011); Aichi Triennale (2010); ‘okohama Triennale (2008); Istanbul Biennial (2005).

Studio Voltaire has been supporting artists for over twenty years, through our renowned programme of exhibitions, performances, events and education projects as well as providing affordable studios.

We have gained a reputation for championing both emerging and underrepresented artistic practices, often at key stage in the artist’s career. These have included Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Phyllida Barlow, Ruth Ewan, Elizabeth Price, Jo Spence, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, Richard Slee and Cathy Wilkes.

The gallery also provides an important UK platform for international artists, often providing them their first-ever presentation in the UK. These have included Nairy Baghramian, Thea Djordjadze, Nicole Eisenman, Judith Hopf, Paulina Olowska and Henrik Olesen.