Brecht Wright Gander: Chapter One
Young provocateur Brecht Wright Gander helps inaugurate New York’s latest format-defying collectible art and design gallery.
Room57 Gallery, 235 East 57th Street, New York
16th November 2020 – 14th February 2021
“I ENJOY THE militant discipline of thinking within the box. I’m instinctively drawn to basic furniture typologies – cabinets, bureaus, and wardrobes,” young New York area designer Brecht Wright Gander admits. “At the same time, I am, by temperament, extremely resistant to rules.”
The newcomer has made waves on the US independent design scene over the past few years with a thought-provoking practice that harkens back to the likes of firebrands Andrea Branzi and Joep Van Lieshout. Having first studied philosophy, Ganders exploration of unconventional form and material application offers him an escape from the realm of cerebral theory.
Though the autodidact has found purpose in mastering age-old artisanal techniques, his diverse body of one-off and limited editions works all somehow return to this foundation. This output might seem to fall in line with the amorphic, reclaimed trash trend that appears to be saturating the collectible market these days, but it actually carries much more conceptual depth. Gander’s work plays with object-oriented ontology and user interaction.
On view, as part of the inaugural Chapter One group exhibition at New York’s newest gallery, Room57, three new radically opposed works elucidate this approach in some form or other.
‘Directions for Knowing All Dark Things Credenza’ (2020) demonstrates Gander’s woodwork skills. Its delicate inlays and flourishes allude to the refined finishing of a guitar. Cast in a deep colourful relief pattern, ‘Homemaker’s Credenza’ (2020) challenges the common perceptions of weight and smoothness associated with concrete. ‘Another Fucking Lamp (1)’ (2020) combines the iconography and formal vocabulary of Victorian dress to poke fun at the sexual connotation of turning something, or someone, on.
“Furniture typically works for people. But it can also work on them,” Gander adds. “’Another Fucking Lamp’ can only be turned on through the effortful manipulation of an umbilical cord inside what I would call a non-gendered orifice. In every way, operating the light is an experience designed to cause the user discomfort. The intention is to invert the paradigm of service that exists between objects and users and to emphasise the latently sexual aspect of that relationship to a degree that makes it almost untenable.”
Within the Chapter One exhibition at Room57 Gallery, Gander’s statement pieces figure among an eclectic yet carefully curated melding of historical and contemporary works. Photographs by Robert Motherwell and paintings by Peter Halley enter into dialogue with mixed media pieces by Ugo Schildge, and ATRA Form. They are displayed together in a contextualised domestic setting that offers collectors a more egalitarian, less intimidating acquisition process.
“Today’s buyers want a holistic place to discover unique works, without having them siloed into strict “art” and “design” categories,” the gallery’s founder Josh Fayer explains. “Having not only art and design but art-inspired objects for the home available, I hope to provide a range of items for experienced and new collectors alike. Room57 Gallery is a place to fall in love with established names while also discovering new ones.
For Fayer, placing Gander next to postwar American abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler uncovers previously undetectable qualities in each talent’s oeuvre. “Frankenthaler’s abstractions are ephemeral, while Brecht’s designs are metaphorical, alluding, sometimes playfully, to their inspiration in a direct way.” This personal cabinet of curiosities includes works by Grear Patterson, Roxanne Jackson, Danni Pantel, the Campana Brothers, KAWSxCampana, Marcel Wanders, Allison Zuckerman, Amir H. Fallah, Aguirre Design, and Jude Hughes.
Room57 Gallery – driven by the idea that art and design discovery should be organic, and that collectors should be able to personally engage with works before bringing them into their home.