News – Oct 18

Ryu Gaku was recently interviewed by Sage Elgin-White for der Hut (issue 23, Oct. 18). Gaku talks about his views on the current state of the contemporary art world. Below is an excerpt.

SE: Why did you stop exhibiting in galleries?

RG: That’s the wrong question to be asking. To me, it’s more interesting to explore why I exhibited in galleries for as long as I did.

SE: Can you elaborate on that?

RG: Most people accept the gallery system as the standard of showing art. If this informs the general understanding of what art really is, then we have a problem. For starters, there is a pervasive belief – a residue of centuries past – that ‘art’ refers to traditional visual artforms such as painting and drawing.  These are often well-suited to the gallery context. The thing is, much of the most important art being made today is not primarily visual, or even concretely formed. Art can now be abstract – not merely symbolic of the abstract, but abstract in the true sense of not having a physical form. This is the information age.

SE: So you feel like the work you’re making now doesn’t work in the gallery setting.

RG: It’s not that it doesn’t work in that setting; it’s more that the gallery formula sets shocking limitations on people’s capacity to understand what it is about. In the gallery, people will look at my work and say, oh, that’s nice. That’s different. He has an unusual style. These people will buy my stuff, and in that sense you could say that the work ‘works’ in the setting. But most people will walk away without any real depth of understanding as to what it is all about. On that level, I would say that the work has failed – or, more accurately, it’s been sabotaged by the exhibition format.

The full article can be found in print at specialist magazine stores.