There’s a genuine polarity at play within the various works and mediums that comprise Giles Ryder’s Life Without Rituals, the last show at Block Projects’ Flinders Lane space before it moves to its new building in Richmond.
Twisting neon lights are mounted to glossy, 2Pak-coated panels and industrial aluminium frames; their refraction throws a softened spectrum of light about the space. Canvases slathered in bitumen paint perch, encased and by glass; a periphery of holographic vinyl catches the available light, creating a peculiar, inviting luminosity.
“The glass catches other elements within the room and the vinyl pulls a world into this seemingly singular object,” says Ryder.
But they are exhibits sealed away from the dangers of prying hands, of dust and damaging elements. The glass acts as an impenetrable barrier; the relationship between the audience and the work is predefined and unchangeable.
“I’m concerned with looking at art, its purpose within the world and art’s historical function and how that’s changed,” explains the Sydney-based artist. “We’re sort of in a grey area at the moment: is art just a consumer item or an object of desire?”
Referencing Yves Klein, Ryder prompts questions of value by framing such industrial materials in a museum-like context.
“I’m really interested in the museum,” he says. “So part of the reason for the framing is this idea of trying to make things last forever and thinking about the museum’s function in that, that status and so on.”
There’s also something of an autobiographical resonance to Ryder’s choice of materials. The artist worked as an industrial painter on Brisbane’s Story Bridge for over half a decade.
“Bitumen paint is basically petrol-based paint used to seal surfaces,” he says “But we all use this material. Artists use it as well, even in oil paints. We all rely on the industries to produce all this stuff.”
Giles Ryder’s Life Without Rituals runs until August 28 at Block Projects.