“Even Bad Art is Good” | A Visit to Ryan Gander’s Studio | Louisiana Channel

“This studio is a bit like heaven because it’s like going to art school again.”

We visited British artist Ryan Gander in his studio in Suffolk. Once a sports and leisure centre, Gander’s studio is now a home for playful artistic experimentation and collections of curious objects, each with its own story.

A walk through the studio reveals a series of items, from Japanese novelty goods to tiny Christmas crackers displayed in a vending machine in alphabetical order. “That’s a Japanese masturbation tool for men. And then down the bottom we’ve got marijuana, which is illegal in this country. You can totally get raided, although the weed seems to run out really quickly,” Gander remarks, his tone a blend of humor and candidness.

His studio walls are lined with photographs and post-it notes, each representing a nascent artwork. “People always say: You have so many ideas. I don’t have any more ideas than anybody else in the world. It’s just that I write them all down and stick them on the wall,” he explains. This systematic approach ensures a steady flow of creativity, transforming mundane moments into profound artistic statements.

Among the highlights of the visit is a new painting inspired by his parents’ 35mm slides. “For me, this is like the perfect painting for my practice because it’s basically an image. But the image again is in the viewer’s head,” he notes. This painting, like much of his work, invites viewers to complete the narrative, emphasizing art’s interactive and subjective nature.

Gander’s reflections extend beyond his studio to broader societal concerns. He discusses the role of time in appreciating art, asserting, “Art is for the privileged. It’s not about the privilege of money. It’s about the privilege of time. To enjoy art, you need spare time. And spare time is the greatest privilege.”

Ryan Gander (b. in 1976, Chester, England) has established an international reputation through artworks that materialize in many forms – from sculpture to film, writing, graphic design, installation, performance, and more. Gander studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, NL, and the Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, NL. Gander has been a Professor of Visual Art at the University of Huddersfield and holds an honorary Doctor of the Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Suffolk. In 2017, he was awarded an OBE for services to contemporary art. In 2019, he was awarded the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. In 2022, he was made RA for the category of Sculpture. As well as curating exhibitions, he is a committed educator, having taught at international art institutions and universities. He has written and edited a variety of books and presented television programs on and about contemporary art and culture for the BBC. Major projects and commissions include Kunsthalle Bern, CH; Pinault Collection, Bourse de Commerce, Paris; Space K, Seoul; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Café Aubette, Strasbourg; Musée d‘art Contemporain de Montréal; Aspen Art Museum; Liverpool Biennial; Sydney Biennale; Performa, NY; High Line, NY; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; Locked Room Scenario, commissioned by Artangel, London; 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale; Intervals at The Guggenheim Museum, NY; Public Art Fund, NY.

Ryan Gander was interviewed by Malte Fals in June 2023. The conversation took place in Ryan Gander’s studio in Woodbridge, Suffolk, United Kingdom.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Malte Fals
Produced by: Malte Fals and Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling.

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