For his first solo exhibition in New York since 2008, British conceptual artist Ryan Gander presents a new body of work that considers the psychology of the body and questions the possibilities and limitations of figuration. A master storyteller, Gander’s complex, yet playful, practice is characterized by allusion, where focal points are teasingly hidden and meaning is subtly implied. Stimulated by existential queries and investigations into what-ifs, each one of his artworks acts as a vessel to tell a new story, all collectively fitting into an overarching narrative where fictions and realities collide. Mirrors with no reflection, bodiless eyes, faceless men and a self-portrait in constant motion combine to reflect Gander’s interest in the dialectics of self-awareness and the barriers to understanding.
Manchester Art Gallery Ryan Gander Magnus Opus 2013. Image Martin Argyroglo Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Flirtatious, cartoonish eyes follow visitors around the exhibition. Embedded not on a face but a blank wall, the eyes are animatronic, connected to motion sensors activated by movement in the room. With long, seductive lashes and coyly raised eyebrows, the work is the female counterpart to Gander’s Magnus Opus (2013), one of the artist’s most popular works to date. Dominae Illud Opus Populare (2016), on show at Lisson Gallery for the first time, has been programmed to generate every expression that can be registered through one’s eyes, from boredom and worry to curiosity and surprise. Expression is further explored through a new series of sculptures: life-size armatures of artist models in dramatic postures, arranged strategically within the gallery’s expansive exhibition space. Positioned in a number of evocative gestures – one redundantly and despondently sitting alone, another holding a broken and limp model of itself – the works convey a range of melancholic emotions through limbs alone. Faces are brass rectangles, purposefully blank to illustrate the possibility of gesture as a form of emotion.
Motifs of sight and visibility appear in a series of recent sculptures by the artist that consist of stately mirrors over which marble dustsheets have been draped. With reflections obscured from view, the works’ impenetrability frustrates viewers and starkly reveals the barriers inherent to self-realization.
A walled-off installation, housed within a purpose-built space at the center of the gallery, contains different objects that glide momentarily past on a moving conveyor belt. Visible only through a small aperture on the wall, the work expands on Gander’s ambitious project Fieldwork, adding 32 new items that have been crafted or drawn from the artist’s personal collection. The installation acts as a self-portrait, showcasing the internal workings of the artist’s mind, and is accompanied by a book that includes descriptive entries and essays on the phenomenology of each object that has appeared in both presentations of the work.
Details from Fieldwork 2016
Ryan Gander: I see straight through you September 16th – October 15th , 2016 Lisson Gallery 504 W 24th Street, New York www.lissongallery.com
About The Artist
Ryan Gander is a cultural magpie in the widest sense, polymathically taking popular notions apart only to rebuild them in new ways. Language and storytelling play an overarching role in his work, not least in his series of Loose Association lectures or in his attempt to slip a nonsensical, palindromic new word, ‘mitim’, into the English language. Invitation and collaboration are also at the heart of Gander’s fugitive art – whether he’s exchanging fictionalized newspaper obituaries with an artist-friend or taking pictures of people looking at pictures at an art fair – although arguably every solipsistic action he takes merely holds up yet another mirror to his ceaselessly voracious mind.
Ryan Gander was born in Chester in 1976 and works in London. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at venues including Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Belgium and Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal (2016); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore and Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City (2015); Manchester Art Gallery and Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2010); Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2008); MUMOK, Vienna (2007) and the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2007). Gander has been the recipient of various prizes, such as the Zürich Art Prize (2009), the ABN Amro Art Price (2006), the Baloise Art Statements of the Art Basel (2006) and the Dutch Prix de Rome for sculpture (2003), and has participated in several group exhibitions including the British Art Show 8 and Performa, New York, 2015.