Ryan Gander The ArtLyst Interview

Ryan Gander

ArtLyst catches up with Ryan Gander in the year that looks to be his for the taking; and gets the EXCLUSIVE lowdown on his new foray into curation – ‘YBA II’

1) Could you briefly explain the idea behind the YBA II exhibition?

To collect together a load of brilliant artists who happen to be British and young, and see them in one room. It’s selfish but I did it because it’s a show I wanted to see.

I asked them to make work only in Black and White as a sort of tongue in cheek attempt to show how ridiculous the notion of the curatorial thematic is.

2) Could you talk a little bit about the 46 artists included in the show, and explain why you chose them?

They are people who are friends, people I have never met, people I have been told about but only seen works in images, they are… just people who make art that I think is an original and interesting contribution to knowledge.

I chose under-represented and under-celebrated artists. It’s screamingly obvious that there are more brilliant artists who don’t have a ‘career’ in art than the ones that do. Between you and me (and the reader) I’m often disappointed by the institution of art as a whole, and its selection formula for artists who are given opportunities. It sometimes seems like our art world doesn’t want challenging work – that it feels safer around the work it knows how to explain. This doesn’t do much for our ‘British Scene’ internationally.

3) As an artist, why do you have an urge to curate?

Well, my practice is based around the idea of producing a diverse stockpile of works which I can then self-curate. I rarely make stand alone things, and I enjoy producing ‘shows’, or steering my practice as a whole, much more than making singular artworks. So the idea of self-curating is central to what I do. Making shows with other artists’ work is more difficult, but difficult is good. If it’s not hard, I would lose interest.

I like collecting things and arranging them to see how they collide with one another. That’s my main interest in life – whether it is with food, art, design, clothes, literature, everything. Idea diarrhoea.

Curation of this kind is as integral to my life as growing Shiso, making my daughters clothes, and designing furniture, but it’s not as integral to my life as making art.

4) Why did you choose to name check the YBAs, and in what ways do you see a parallel with your project and the YBAs?

It’s merely descriptive. But of course it carries implications.

Maybe this show will help the image of British Art through positive appropriation of a fatigued generation. ‘YBA’ has become a term to describe the tired, gaudy sensational output of artists in the 90’s that were over-commercialised and under-intellectualised.

Obviously the work I make, and the people in my circle, and the people in this show couldn’t be further from the interests of the original YBAs and what they represented. They are just three words – I don’t think they are copyrighted are they?

It’s better to look forwards.


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Questions by Thomas Keane, Photograph by Paul Carter Robinson © 2012 ArtLyst



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