Annet Gelink Gallery proudly presents the fifth solo exhibition by Ryan Gander (Chester, 1976): "Once upon a Bicycle, not so long ago", showing an entirely new body of work. Gander's practice is as deeply conceptual as it is playful, recalling fictional stories and events, personal memories and art history - in particular the history of Modernism. In his current show at Annet Gelink Gallery, Gander reminisces, exhibiting his great skill as a visual storyteller.
On entering the gallery, the first work one encounters is "My head on your Belly" (2013), a marble cast of the items of luggage Gander always travels with. Together with the title, the work seems to constitute a longing for home. A little further in the exhibition, one finds I"nvestigation # 99 - the halo effect" (2013), consisting of two sculptures which Gander has made from a description of an unfinished project by his father. Central in the exhibition space "I is ... (iii)" (2013) is shown, a marble sculpture representing a den, which consists of a simple shelter made by the artist's three years old daughter using a full size Rietveld Crate chair and smaller Rietveld Crate chair, designed for children. Although this work directly recalls Gander's family-life, it also hints to art history (De Stijl) by the use of the Rietveld Chairs and by the technique of 'draping'. By draping the marble - recalling traditional marble sculptures - Gander playfully exhibits a tension between tradition and modernity. Gander's works are often extremely layered, threading together fact and fiction, the personal and the historical.
Whereas "My head on your Belly" and "I is ... (iii)", Gander chooses to work with traditional artistic materials like bronze and marble, in "Investigation # 92 - With heart dotted 'i's" (2013) the artist transfers to striped toothpaste from which to fashion an alphabet. Likewise, the lamps he made for his wife are constructed from unorthodox materials. In Gander's practice, everything can become a work of art, the artist doesn't limit himself in material nor in subject.
By mentioning his wife, three-year-old daughter or father in his work, Gander easily engages his audience. One should keep in mind however, that his practice is as highly conceptual as it is intimate: Gander is acutely aware of the feelings he is able to steer. This also comes to the fore in "Once upon a Bicycle, not so long ago", where the feeling of yearning one encounters in the exhibition is made explicit for those who look and listen carefully. Gander is, after all, a wonderful storyteller.
Recently, Gander has participated in the Venice Biennial (2011), dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel (2012) and he had a solo exhibition at Palais de Tokyo.