Ryan Gander

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Ryan Gander (born 1976) is an English artist born in Chester, who lives and works between London and Suffolk. He is a wheelchair user.[1] A disabled conceptual artist,[2] Gander's work "involves a lot of playful puzzles, cultural collisions and meta-versions of reality."[3]

Life and career[edit]


Gander trained in Interactive Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, receiving a First Class Degree in 1999. In 2000 he spent a year at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands, as a Fine Art Research Participant. Then he participated in the artists residency programme of the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam from 2001 - 2002.

Artistic practice[edit]

Gander is represented by the Lisson Gallery.[4] His work is formally diverse and has included, "a chess set, a new word, a children's book, jewellery, customised sportswear, glass orb paperweights and maps," as well as photography, films, and drawings.[5] Considering Gander’s work, "Appendix", art critic Mark Beasley said: "It’s an unwieldy yet fascinatingly open account, somewhat like lucid dreaming, which shows the artist at his most arch, open and revealing ... an attempt to discuss practice in a form sympathetic to the work in discussion."[6]

As revealed in a recent Culture Show documentary on BBC television about his practice, most of Gander's art is completely removed from the hand of the artist and carried out by a team of technical specialists. He is often physically incapable of carrying out the making of the work himself.[7]


From 2002-03, early presentations of Gander's work were in the form of lectures which he delivered to the public in many venues: 'Loose Associations Lecture 1.1' and 'Loose Associations Lecture 2.1'. These encapsulated his position as an interactive artist. Gander's recent solo exhibitions include The Happy Prince for the Public Art Fund in New York, USA in 2010 and more recently Now there’s not enough of it to go around, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Ftt, Ft, Ftt, Ftt, Ffttt, Ftt, or somewhere between a modern representation of how a contemporary gesture came into being, an illustration of the physicality of an argument between Theo and Piet regarding the dynamic aspect of the diagonal line and attempting to produce a chroma-key set for a hundred cinematic scenes at Taro Nasu Gallery, Tokyo, Japan in 2011.

Disability-related works[edit]

Gander is a wheelchair user with a long-term physical disability. His work for the 2011 Venice Biennale exhibition featured an action-figure sized sculpture that represents him while he falls from a wheelchair. "It is a self-portrait in the worst possible position".[8][9]

Additionally, Gander’s experiences as a disabled artist often make their way into his pieces. In 2006, his installation at the old Whitechapel Library, 'Is this Guilt in you too?', where he filled the space with obstacles, detritus, dead ends, and illusions meant to confound visitors and symbolize the inequitable difficulties faced by the disabled, was part of the Art Council's 'Adjustments' exhibitions whose aim was 'to address transitional thinking on disability, equality and inclusion'.[10]

His other works are normally not related to disabilities. However, Matthew Higgs argues in his commentary about Gander's work,[11] that his disability actually contributes to Gander's unique way of seeing: "The first thing I ever noticed about Ryan was that he uses a wheelchair. I mention this not in passing, nor as a gratuitous aside. Whilst I accept that some people might argue that this information is irrelevant, I would like to think that the fact that Ryan uses a wheelchair does - at least - have some bearing on my subsequent understanding of his work."

Personal life[edit]

Gander is married to the director of the Limoncello gallery, Rebecca May Marston, with whom he has a daughter.[12]

Critical response[edit]

  • “Ryan Gander is a story-teller, a teller of tales” ... “His art is an attempt to see beyond the internal art referent, to hug an idea so tightly that its innards are squeezed onto the walls” [13]

  • "The work of London-based artist Ryan Gander is multi-faceted, ranging through installation, sculpture, intervention, writing and performative lecturing” [14]

  • “Ryan Gander's practice involves a lot of playful puzzles, cultural collisions and meta-versions of reality.” [3]

  • “Humour underpins much of Gander’s work, rescuing it from mere 'institutional critique', engaging us with its dead-pan, self-deprecating knowingness. It is as rigorous as it is strangely, accessible.” [15]

Ryan Gander won the Prix de Rome for sculpture (the national Dutch art prize) in 2003. He was nominated for the Beck's Futures prize in 2005.[citation needed]


  • Loose Associations Lecture 1.1, 2002
  • Loose Associations Lecture 2.1, 2003
  • This Consequence, 2005
  • A Future Lorem Ipsum, 2006
  • Didactease Necklace, 2006
  • My Family Before Me, 2006
  • The Neon Series, several neon works, 2006–2011
  • As it presents itself – Somewhere Vague, 2008
  • A sheet of paper on which I was about to draw, as it slipped form my table and fell to the floor, 2008
  • Degas Ballerina Series, several bronze sculptures, 2008–2011
  • Man on a bridge - (A study of David Lange), 2008
  • The New New Alphabet, 2008
  • Associative Templates Series, #1 – #31, 2009
  • The Happy Prince, 2010
  • The book of ‘The Sitting’, 2009
  • Ftt, Ft, Ftt, Ftt, Ffttt, Ftt, or somewhere between a modern representation of how a contemporary gesture came into being, an illustration of the physicality of an argument, 2010

Public collections[edit]

Gander’s works are included in both international public and private collections including Tate Collection, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; Le Fonds régional d'art contemporain du Nord Pas-de-Calais; FNAC, Paris, France; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France; MaMBO, Bologna; The Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Arts Council, London; Welsh Museum, Cardiff; Government Art Collection, London.


  1. ^ Culture Show. BBC2. Retrieved 11 June 2014
  2. ^ 'Doing Disability Differently: An Alternative Handbook on Architecture, Dis/ability and Designing for Everyday Life' by Jos Boys. Publisher: Routledge. ISBN 9780415824958.
  3. ^ a b "Artist's Palate: Ryan Gander", Wallpaper*, 2011, retrieved 2011-09-13 
  4. ^ Lisson Gallery artists. Ryan Gander
  5. ^ Sherwin, Skye (2010-05-26). "Artist of the week 89: Ryan Gander". The Guardian (London). 
  6. ^ http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/ryan_gander/
  7. ^ Culture Show. BBC2. Retrieved 15 June 2014
  8. ^ Venice Biennale
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Disability Arts Online. Arts Council commission
  11. ^ 'The Death of Abbe Farria'. Matt Higgs
  12. ^ http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/limoncello-gallery Limoncello Gallery
  13. ^ Mark Beasley, frieze Magazine, Issue 86, October 2004
  14. ^ "Ryan Gander", Axisweb.org, 2005, retrieved 2011-09-13 
  15. ^ "Ryan Gander solos at South London Gallery", Art Knowledge News, retrieved 2011-09-13 

External links[edit]