Unlike the Julian Opie show I've just reviewed, which seemed to voluntarily disgorge the information or associations between works which is necessary to get the critical ball rolling, Gander's exhibition (also at the Lisson Gallery) left me uncharacteristically at a loss for words. I knew I preferred these works, but, while I had easily filled several pages with notes from even a cursory viewing of Opie's efforts, the only word I wrote in conjunction with Gander's pieces after an hour's worth of viewing was “ghostly”. Which, to be fair, could have been a worse assessment.

The first room to the right on entering the gallery plays host to More really shiny things that don't mean anything, a large assemblage constructed from pieces of reflective industrial metal. The large spherical form can only be fully viewed from the window of the gallery, as its placement within the room obstructs the doorway entrance. This blockade frustratingly limits the extent to which we are permitted to engage with the work, but this is tempered by something coy and slightly ridiculous: the idea that something of this magnitude is attempting, given the reflective quality of its surface, to somehow camouflage itself or hide from the frustrations it evinces, and this serves to endear it anew.

In the adjacent space, Gander presents us with a selection of works which appear to be engrossed in some sort of clandestine interplay, but as if glimpsed just after the realisation that they're about to be observed (hence the seeming cessation of activity). Each of the pieces harbours its own story, but one which to some extent seems, like the entrance to the previous room, obfuscated and impenetrable. Two marble sculptures (I Is… and Tell My Mother not to Worry) which one assumes, given the shape and sense of apprehended movement, represent a chair beneath a sheet and a child pretending to be a ghost (that word again!). Viewers will always need to content themselves with that assumption, as the nature of the material permits us no further access to its inherent story. Gander has also spoken of these pieces as an attempt to solidify two moments he glimpsed of his daughter at play, wherein the creative development of the child is evidenced. With these works, he immortalises these moments and preserves them for posterity, creating a sort of sculptural portraiture. In so doing, he monumentalises the ordinary.

Also resident in this room are a number of large, multi-layered clear perspex wall panels, which have been embellished with a number of perforations in various shapes and sizes. Small labels (clear, the white text making them difficult to read against the white gallery walls) allude to the fact that each of the apertures represents the space occupied by an object on a table. In much the same manner as his attempt to provide a physical record of his daughter's play, Gander here provides a record of an event, albeit a prosaic one. However, the fact that some of the layers of perspex are replicated and repositioned, thus situating the placement of some articles from one tableau in another, manipulates the memory and the associations, thus implementing a dialogue between potentially unrelated objects. The same can be discerned in the two final pieces in this room (both titled The Way Things Collide). These two pieces, both intricately carved from beech wood, are a macaron biscuit resting on a stool and a used condom discarded on a bedside locker. They are at once quietly jocular, visually arresting, and conceptually plaintive, and serve to enhance a feeling of being not-quite-privy to the whole story.

Upstairs, Gander provides us with two more studies in the same slightly exasperating vein of More really shiny things that don't mean anything. With Kodak Courage, the viewer is seduced by the presence of a single display case, the sole occupier of a large room. From outside, a small object of indeterminate origin is just about visible, but as soon as curiosity entices us to advance, sensors engage a built-in blocking mechanism, turning the clear panels into a mirror, and blocking our viewing attempts. Similarly, The Best Club tempts us to discard etiquette and draw back a heavy curtain which (theoretically) will reveal something interesting behind. It doesn't, and one is left staring blankly at a bare wall.

With this show, Gander, predictably, presents us with a body of cerebral, subtly comic, and beautifully fabricated work. More important, though, is the fact that we are viewing work from a narrative craftsman at the top of his game. There's an intangibility to the works, despite their construction, which attests to the artist's skill at making even the most solid of materials (marble, wood) seem spectral. Gander has reached a point in his practice where he's able to elicit really meaningful connections with his viewers, but in a way which is so pleasantly insidious that we've submitted completely before even realising it. In terms of exhibition choices, the Lisson Gallery is most certainly on a roll at the moment.

Ryan Gander - The Falling Out of Living, at Lisson GalleryJohn Patrick Egan reviews Ryan Gander: The Fallout of Living at Lisson Gallery.4