This conceptual work by Ryan Gander is presented in two parts. In the first part of the diptych (illustrated here) a cork board with various photographs, notes, diagrams and leaflets pinned to it hangs in a white frame behind glass. In the second part, a seemingly identical cork board is also framed behind glass but in this case it is left bare except for the slightly darker areas where presumably things were once stuck to the board. Close inspection, however, reveals that all is not what it seems. The first part is actually a photograph of a cork board and all the various bits and pieces pinned to it are two dimensional, while the second part is a real board made of cork tiles.
An elaborate optical illusion or trompe-l'œil, it draws upon multiple layers of fact and fiction. The bare cork board with its imprints of missing material makes reference to the ordered, abstract compositions of many minimal or modernist paintings. In his use of cork, an everyday material, Gander seems to be drawing our attention to the fact that anything can be regarded as art, but that it is the process of looking and making connections that confers significance or meaning. This idea is extended by the items that he has assembled which draw our attention to the first noticeboard. While a cursory glance might suggest these are disparate and unrelated, the items – a leaflet entitled The Building Stones of Sheffield, a diagram of molecular structures and a photograph of two children building wooden houses for example – all in some way refer to the act of construction.
Gander’s practice is multi-faceted, ranging from installation, sculpture, writing to performance. He is interested in story telling and often assembles seemingly disparate objects, allowing the viewer to piece together the allusive narrative connections. It is the discursiveness of the artistic thought process that appeals to Gander who has commented that:
One day you wake up and manufacture a pair of gold earrings; the next you're thinking about the semiotics of a Victorian lady's fan.
Writing about Gander’s playful work in Frieze magazine, Mark Beasley refers to his dry humour and his ability ‘to hug an idea so tightly that its innards are squeezed onto the walls and out into the everyday’.
Ryan Gander was born in Chester and studied at Manchester Metropolitan University (1996–1999). He went on to study at the Jan Van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, (1999–2000) and at the Rijksacademie, Amsterdam (2001–2002). His first solo exhibition was held in 2002 at the International 3 Gallery in Manchester. The following year he published the artist’s book, Appendix and held a solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam.
In 2004 he exhibited An Incomplete History of Ideas, a solo show at Cornerhouse, Manchester which featured Loose Associations (Version 2:1). This was a performance lecture reminiscent of an apparently roaming and trivial conversation amongst friends around a table in a pub. Subsequent exhibitions included shows in Cambridge, Milan and The Netherlands. In 2007 Gander was shortlisted for the Becks Futures Art prize. In summer 2014, a major show of Gander’s work, Make Every Show Like It's Your Last was held at Manchester Art Gallery, UK.
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