b. 1972 Amsterdam, Netherlands; Lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Gabriel Lester (b. 1972 Amsterdam, NL) is a multimedia artist and inventor, internationally recognized for his conceptual films, sculptures and installations that frequently reject categorization or narrative resolution. His work is concerned with challenging pervading preconceptions of who artists are and what art looks like. Early in his career, Lester wrote prose and composed electronic music. His focus shifted to more visual work after studying film, though his creative practice today incorporates a vast range of media, including cinema, music, performance, sculpture and architecture.
Simultaneously atmospheric and perceptual, many of Lester’s works study and comment on the very nature of the media he utilizes. Strongly influenced by cinema and mime at an early stage in his artistic development, his works challenge the reality of perception and draw on collective imagination through his dramatic theatrical illusions that are often devoid of an explicit message or idea. "My work represents a field of tension.” Lester has explained. “It is either implicitly narrative, explicitly visual or both at the same time. My works of art rarely convey a single explicit message or idea, rather they suggest ways to relate to the world."
Lester’s early installation “How to Act”, a so-called ‘film in mime,’ is one of his best known and widely exhibited pieces, expanding the territory of cinema by using sensorial triggers to suggest the illusion of narrative. This work exhibited at De Parel, Amsterdam (1999), De Rijksakademie, Amsterdam (1999), Art Basel (2001), Minsheng Museum(2012) and the Bonner Kunstverein (2014), among other places.
Continuing in his effort to toy with the limits of cinema, “All Right,” a commission for the Busan Biennale in 2006, pushes to re-define filmmaking’s cultural role in an era of new technology. Many of Lester’s visually intriguing works rely on architectural experimentation, as demonstrated in “Melancholia in Arcadia,” an installation presenting a frozen cinematic moment in an architectural space.
Lester studied at the Academy of Art and Design in Breda between 1994 and 1995 and later continued his training at Hogeschool Sint Lukas, Brussels (1995-1996) and the prestigious Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunst, Amsterdam (1999-2000). He currently lives and works in Amsterdam.
His work has been included in major collective exhibitions and important international events such as the Momentum 10 Biennial Norway, the Busan Biennial, Sculpture in the City London, Groninger Museum, Kochi-Muziris Biennial, Marrakesh Biennale, de Appel arts centre, MACBA, Witte de With, Sydney Biennial, the Venice Biennale, Performa 13 and 09, Documenta 13, the Sao Paulo International Art Biennial, the Stedelijk Museum and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, among many others.
Lester’s work is held in the public collections of 21CMuseum, KY; 798 Art Zone, Beijing; Centraal Museum Utrecht, Netherlands; CitizenM, Netherlands; MUDAM, Fondation Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum De Paviljoens, NL; Netherlands; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Rabobank Art Collection, Netherlands.
Gabriel Lester’s Cinema Without a Camera
Gabriel Lester: Forced Perspectives
Gabriel Lester: How to Act: Installations 2000-2006