ArtLyst Review – Ryan Gander is going places. For such a young artist (Gander is only 35), he has produced an impressively expansive body of work that is as intellectually rich as it is varied. And that is just one of the reasons why we like him.
Renouned for his strong work ethic, Gander famously never reproduces the same work twice, although he may explore related themes recurrently. This method of working necessitates that the artist must constantly search for new conceptual concerns and explore new media via which to communicate his intention. In so doing, Gander seeks to differentiate himself from what he describes as the “majority of artists [who] have a single idea, at best a few, spread over an entire fifty-year practice.” Thus, his shows are as much of a treat to the mind as they are to the eye.
Gander’s diverse portfolio of artistic accomplishments is multi-faceted, rather like a complex riddle that is waiting to be solved. Although he often deploys humour to establish the initial point connection his audience, Gander’s work is immensely rewarding for viewers who are willing to look beyond gimmick towards the layers of meaning that lie beneath, and who want more than just instant gratification.
Gander characteristically works associatively, rather than on a single topic – often blending macro themes such as ‘history’ and ‘culture’ together with personal anecdotes mined from his own experiences. In an interview with The White Review, Ryan Gander once suggested that he does this because he does not wish to confine himself to a singular worldview: “I am speaking of something that is a way of living, where you may pick up on a million different unrelated things in one day — that you cannot articulate, only recycle and evolve into new experiences. I only know a few artists in whose practice this is visible.”
This approach to collating objects, ideas and experience continues in Gander’s most recent exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, The Fallout of Living – in which he explores “the fallout from the moment in an artist’s life when, having become so fluent in visual language, their life and practice have become indistinguishable.” For Gander, the day-to-day business of living is an innately creative process in the sense that “every decision (down to the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the placement of objects in your home) becomes creative and aesthetic.”
In this show, the artist forges new relationships between disparate objects by juxtaposing them alongside each other. The associations are strengthened by the fact that the objects are fabricated out of the same material. In The way things collide (Macaron Meet Stool) an intricate, life-sized rendition of macaron is placed on top of a stool that is partially carved out from the still visible stump of a tree. In The way things collide (condom, meet USM cabinet), a wooden used condom tied into a knot is left lying on a chest of drawers. The effect is simultaneously surreal in its incongruity, but familiar in its reference to the banality of the everyday.
Gander explores the murky boundary between art and everyday life in I is … (i) and Tell my mother not to worry (ii). Gander derived the inspiration for both works from watching his own daughter at play – first she built a den, and then pretended to be a ghost underneath a sheet. “Replicated in marble, the sculptures capture fleeting moments in the creative development of a child and transform them into permanent monuments of artistic growth.” Referencing the drapery of classic Greco-Roman sculpture, but without revealing anything of the diminutive human form of his child beneath it, the work is intriguing aesthetically and conceptually.
This notion of visibility and invisibility runs though many of the other works on display. Kodak Courage consists of an opaque display cabinet, which frustratingly obscures any view of its interior from the viewer. The Associative ghost template series consists of a sequence of Perspex panels from which shapes have been cut out. A description plaque alongside each panel explains the negative spaces, which include the outlines of post it stickers and pages torn from a notebook.
Another theme that often permeates Gander’s work is the relationship of the audience to art, and to the art establishment more broadly. In More really shiny things that don’t mean anything, a giant ball produced from various stainless steel objects disrupts the perceived limits of the gallery by blocking the entrance to the room. Without being able to walk inside the space in which the work has been installed, the viewer has no choice but to interact with the piece in the doorway, in passing through to the main exhibition beyond.
Ryan Gander (born in 1976) lives and works in London. In 2011, he was commissioned by Artangel to create Locked Room Scenario. Although he has been tipped before to win the Turner Prize, he has never been nominated for this prestigious award – at least not yet, but watch this space. Gander is a rising start to watch out for. Words/Image Carla Raffinetti ©ArtLyst 2012
Ryan Gander The Fallout of Living Lisson Gallery 52-54 Bell Street, London 11 July – 24 August 2012
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