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Gabriel Lester

b. 1972 Amsterdam, Netherlands; Lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gabriel Lester
Gabriel Lester


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 important international events such as the Momentum 10 Biennial, Norway; the Busan Biennial, Korea; Sculpture in the City, UK; Groninger Museum, Netherlands; Kochi-Muziris Biennial, India; Marrakesh Biennale, Morocco; de Appel arts centre, Netherlands; MACBA, Spain; Witte de With, Netherlands; Sydney Biennial, Australia; Venice Biennale, Italy; Performa 13 and 09, NY; Documenta 13, Germany; the São Paulo International Art Biennial, Brazil; the Stedelijk Museum, Netherlands; and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Belgium, among many others. His work has also been featured in group and solo exhibitions at institutions such as Bundeskunsthalle, Germany (2022); Electricity Factory, Netherlands (2021); SCHIRN Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2020); Groninger Museum, Netherlands (2017); de Appel arts centre, Netherlands (2016); Contemporary Arts Centre, Luxembourg (2016); Van Gogh Museum, NL (2015); Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014); and Minsheng Museum, China (2013), among others.

Lester’s work is held in the public collections of 21CMuseum, KY; 798 Art Zone, China; Centraal Museum, Netherlands; CitizenM, Netherlands; MUDAM, Fondation Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Netherlands; Museum De Paviljoens, Netherlands; Stedelijk Museum, Netherlands; and the Rabobank Art Collection, Netherlands.



Gabriel Lester’s Cinema Without a Camera

with text by Gabriel Lester

146 pages

LesterWorks, Amsterdam, 2019

Gabriel Lester: Forced Perspectives

with contributions by Lee Ambrozy, Philippe Pirotte, and Vivian Sky Rehberg

272 pages

Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2015

Gabriel Lester: How to Act: Installations 2000-2006

with contributions by Sara Arrhenius, Vasif Kortun, Raimundus Malašauskas, and Aaron Schuster

238 pages

Veenman Publishers, Rotterdamn, 2006