Ryan Gander

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Ryan Gander OBE (born 1976) is an English artist, born in Chester, who lives and works between London and Suffolk. He is a conceptual artist[1] who works with a wide range of materials.

Early life and education[edit]

Gander was born in Chester, northwest England, in 1976.[2] He trained in Interactive Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, receiving a First Class Degree in 1999. After art school, he went to work in a carpet shop in Chester.[2] 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.


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.[3] 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."[4]

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.[5]

Gander was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to contemporary art.[6][7]

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."


Gander teaches at institutions that include Goldsmiths and the Royal Academy in London, and the University of Huddersfield.[2] In 2013, Gander and creative consultant Simon Turnbull proposed plans to open Fairfield International, a residency for young artists in Saxmundham in Suffolk, eastern England.[2]

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” [12]

  • "The work of London-based artist Ryan Gander is multi-faceted, ranging through installation, sculpture, intervention, writing and performative lecturing” [13]

  • “Ryan Gander's practice involves a lot of playful puzzles, cultural collisions and meta-versions of reality.” [14]

  • “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 has been awarded numerous prestigious prizes, among others the Zürich Art Prize (2009), the ABN Amro Art Prize/ABN AMRO Kunstprijs (2006), the Baloise Art Prize (2005) and the Dutch Prix de Rome for sculpture (2003).[16]


  • 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
  • Ampersand, 2012


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.

Gander's solo exhibitions include Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2012); Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2010); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2008); the Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (2007 & 2003); MUMOK, Vienna (2007) and the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2007). He has also shown in group exhibitions such as the Shanghai Biennale (2012); documenta 13, Kassel (2012); Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2011); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2008) and the Sydney Biennial (2008).[16]

Gander is represented by the Lisson Gallery.[17]

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; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Arts Council, London; Welsh Museum, Cardiff; Government Art Collection, London.

Personal life[edit]

Gander is married to the former director of the Limoncello gallery, Rebecca May Marston, with whom he has two daughters.[18]


  1. ^ 'Doing Disability Differently: An Alternative Handbook on Architecture, Dis/ability and Designing for Everyday Life' by Jos Boys. Publisher: Routledge. ISBN 9780415824958.
  2. ^ a b c d Rachel Spence (6 December 2013), Artist-run art schools Financial Times.
  3. ^ Sherwin, Skye (26 May 2010). "Artist of the week 89: Ryan Gander". The Guardian. London. 
  4. ^ http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/ryan_gander/
  5. ^ Culture Show. BBC2. Retrieved 15 June 2014
  6. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N12. 
  7. ^ Javier Pes (31 December 2016), New Year Honours: architect of African American museum knighted The Art Newspaper.
  8. ^ Venice Biennale
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Disability Arts Online. Arts Council commission
  11. ^ 'The Death of Abbe Farria'. Matt Higgs
  12. ^ Mark Beasley, frieze Magazine, Issue 86, October 2004
  13. ^ "Ryan Gander", Axisweb.org, 2005, archived from the original on 9 March 2012, retrieved 13 September 2011 
  14. ^ "Artist's Palate: Ryan Gander", Wallpaper*, 2011, archived from the original on 25 September 2011, retrieved 13 September 2011 
  15. ^ "Ryan Gander solos at South London Gallery", Art Knowledge News, retrieved 13 September 2011 
  16. ^ a b Ryan Gander Lisson Gallery, London/Milan.
  17. ^ Lisson Gallery artists. Ryan Gander
  18. ^ http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/limoncello-gallery Limoncello Gallery

External links[edit]