Ryan Gander - Profile Image

Ryan Gander

Conceptual Art

December 30, 2014

Ryan Gander is an English artist, born in 1976 in Chester. He is a disabled Conceptual artist who works with a wide range of materials. He attended Manchester Metropolitan University, receiving a First Class Degree in 1999. After art school, Gander worked in a carpet shop in Chester. 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 artist residency programme of the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam in 2001.

Gander’s work is formally diverse and has included, "a chess set, a new word, a children's book, jewelry, customized sportswear, glass orb paperweights and maps," as well as photography, films, and drawings. 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". 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. 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”. His other works are normally not related to disabilities. However, Matthew Higgs argues in his commentary about Gander's work, 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 Goldsmiths, the Royal Academy in London, and the University of Huddersfield. In 2013, Gander and creative consultant Simon Turnbull proposed plans to open Fairfield International, a residency for young artists in in Saxmundham in Suffolk, eastern England. He has been awarded numerous prestigious prizes, among others the Zürich Art Prize in 2009, the ABN Amro Art Prize/ABN AMRO Kunstprijs in 2006, the Bâloise Prize of the Art Basel in 2006 and the Dutch Prix de Rome for sculpture in 2003.

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, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France, MaMBO, Bologna, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Arts Council, London, Welsh Museum, Cardiff, Government Art Collection, London.

Gander is married to the director of the Limoncello gallery, Rebecca May Marston, with whom he has a daughter. He currently lives and works between London and Suffolk.