Arthur Ganson

Thinking Chair

The Dream

Arthur Ganson is one of the most thoughtful artists of our time. No, thoughtful isn’t enough. He’s thoughtful about feelings, about what it feels to be alive today. His thoughts aren’t categorisations, labels. They don’t put things into pigeon holes.  They don’t pin ideas down, as collectors used to pin down butterflies, in rows, their wings flattened out and stiff.  They open up the door of the cage and let the thoughts fly free. His thoughts are elusive, intuitive and inventive. You catch them on the wing. How can a thought be that? Because Ganson has found a way to make his thoughts visible, and to play with them, imaginatively, before our eyes.

Paul Klee took a line for a walk. Ganson takes a thought for a walk, not in two dimensions, but in three dimensions, through space and time, for all thoughts, no matter how fixed we may think them, exist, like everything else, fleetingly, in space and time.

How did Ganson evolve this personal language ? It was the product of the confluence of two tributaries which strengthened an existing stream, which, giving this oomph and direction, transformed Ganson into the major artist he is today. One tributary was the inspiration of that towering genius of post-Picasso art, Jean Tinguely who showed Ganson that kinetic art could open an avenue of expression. The other tributary was his instinctive love of engineering, for making things, beautifully and simply, gadgets that did things, machines that worked.  Inspiration and love of making came together and threw a light on his own life, the main stream from which his art springs. 

Ganson’s experiences of life, like everyone’s, are varied, and each leads, in his case, to the birth of very different works.  His sculptures are complete, with their own personalities, distinct, shining jewels that nevertheless one knows are linked to one chain.  What surprises is their variety: Van Gogh’s yellow chair explodes to smithereens in a cosmic Big Bang but comes together again for a split-second  moment of recognition.  A plush, upholstered chair goes berserk, dancing in the air, trying, totally unsuccessfully, to attract the attention of a rather grumpy cat. A creaking aged contraption teaches a tiny wish-bone to walk – like a child taking its first tentative steps with a concerned adult behind – or is the wish leading and the machine following?

The overall image and the sequence of movement in these works are integrated so closely that they appear deceptively simple,  as if they’d always been there, yet each is a profound, and delicately poised exploration of feelings and relationships.

Here are two still images of wonderful Ganson pieces that need to be seen in action on his website to be fully appreciated.  The Thinking Chair walks ponderously round a lump of rock, in slow motion, like a man on the moon. Whether or not you believe we went there makes no difference to this work. For it was thinking that sent men there, in actuality or in aspiration – thought processes of immense complexity (made visible in the airy gears turning beneath the boulder suspended in space) that were equivalent, technologically, to the pyramid building of ancient times. Dream is a beautiful evocation of a mind let loose from conscious restraint. The obsessive, cyclical repetitions, so familiar to dream states, are superbly caught, and the leaps of one’s attention, the tenuous threads, and the whirring into empty resonances far above our heads. Like all Ganson’s work, this piece is at once humane, joyous and true.

For more information please visit Arthur’s website: