Ron Gilad takes us on a tour of his new show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Ron Gilad takes us on a tour of his new show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Designer-cum-artist Ron Gilad sports a glowing halo, which will also hover above the guards at his exhibition at the Tel Aviv Art Museum while they survey the gallery. 'They will be my sculptures in a way,' he explains
(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Wander around Ron Gilad's new exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and you'll get an unnerving feeling you are being watched. Sometimes the suggestion is subtle - implied by a light behind a closed door in the gallery's display wall - and at other times it's more direct, as with 'Peepholes', a work that spies on you as you peruse the show. Another exhibit ('The Man in the Wall') features a dagger protruding through the plaster with a blood-red thread trailing from its blade. There's definitely life inside these walls - and it can often be quite threatening.

'The exhibition started by dealing with walls as boundaries, which can bring a sense of security but can also be a little frightening,' says the Tel Aviv-based artist-cum-designer. 'There are so many different emotions and points of departure for each and every piece.'

Trickery and wit have long been part of Gilad's oeuvre, whether he is creating limited edition art pieces for the likes of Dilmos Gallery (opens in new tab), or art-infused industrial design works for brands such as Molteni & C (opens in new tab) - scooping the 2013 Wallpaper* Designer of the Year award (opens in new tab) along the way. 'He sustains his vision of design as a form of amusement, a provocation, a humoristic and at times enigmatic act,' says Meira Yagid-Haimovici, curator of design and architecture at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

In the Museum's Herta and Paul Amir Building (opens in new tab), this playfulness is at its height, as the show's title 'The logical, the ironic and the absurd (opens in new tab)' attests. To create some of the approximately 100 pieces in the show - most of which were produced in 2013 - Gilad has stripped objects of their intended functions, abstracted and used them to new ends, such as series of Thonet chairs that have been miniaturised and turned into legs for a sofa, or a pair of wooden doors that have been bent together to form a gate.

Meanwhile, standing proud at the end of the exhibition is 'Butler No.4', an extension to his most surreal series to date (opens in new tab). From the front, the sculpture (originally commissioned for our Handmade exhibition in Milan (opens in new tab) earlier this year) looks like a headless valet holding up a panel of wool as a room divider, while seen from behind, it's nothing more than an abstract stick figure. In this exhibition the Butler screens nothing, so his function becomes even further removed.

Witty as Gilad's works may be, they never feel gimmicky. Instead, they have an unusual beauty; even a poignancy at times. Many of the works dwell on the notion of 'home', a recurring theme for Gilad, expressed as far back as 2010 (opens in new tab) with his project '20 houses for 20 Friends'. At the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, there's 'Flat Façade', which looks like a normal house from the front but is completely flat when seen from the side. Then there's 'Smoking House', whose outline is fashioned from a pencil, with a hole in the roof emitting clouds of lead smoke.

Why this constant interest in the home? 'I think I have always felt foreign, and that sensation has been extreme in chaotic New York,' says the artist, who has only just returned to Israel after 11 years in the US. 'So these are like symbols of where I want to be.' 'Smoking' house suggests the warmth and heat within, while 'Flat Façade' is a sanctuary that can't quite be entered.

Part of the beauty of Gilad's work also lies in its simplicity. Even some of the largest pieces are merely suggested with outlines. 'I'm interested in the skeletons, which for me are the essay of the piece,' he explains. 'I never try to cover things with flesh and skin.' He also has the remarkable ability to make hefty materials seem lightweight and malleable: clouds are expressed in marble and a tent made from lead looks like it could float off in a gust of wind. It's this visual brevity and lightness of touch that gives his works their punch. In his hands, the smallest of sculptural details can be powerfully suggestive, which makes the life inside the gallery's walls all the more frightening.

Left side wall and peepholes

Of the approximately 100 works in the exhibition - most of which were created in 2013 - many are built into the fabric of the gallery itself, suggesting there's life inside the walls. This takes an unnerving turn in the case of 'The Man in the Wall' (left) and 'Peepholes'. Says Gilad: 'The exhibition started by dealing with walls as boundaries, which can bring a sense of security but can also be a little frightening'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Ron Gilad takes us on a tour of his new show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Installation view at 'Ron Gilad: The logical, the Ironic and the Absurd' in the Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. 'Shutters' (pictured, left), is made from paintings of shutters on canvas that have been framed and hung on hinges so that they open and close like real shutters. Meanwhile, another piece of trickery comes in the shape of 'Flat Façade' (second from left), which looks invitingly like a real house from the front, yet its façade is completely flat from the side, as its name suggests

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

A tour of Ron Gilad's new show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

'Welcome Out' perplexingly leads the viewer no-where

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

The smoke represents life picture

Many of Gilad's work explore the concept of 'home'. 'I think I have always felt foreign, and that sensation has been extreme in chaotic New York,' explains the designer, who has just moved back to Tel Aviv after 11 years in the US. 'So these are like symbols of where I want to be.' In 'Smoking House', pictured, 'the smoke represents life, the fact that there is warmth and heat inside the house'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

wooden stick

Gilad frequently returns to the idea of the red-roofed house, 'the very classic icon of what is a house'. With 'Twisted House', he has literally spun the red-roofed house on its head

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

A man takes a white cloth

'Butler No. 4' was originally commissioned for Wallpaper's Handmade exhibition in Milan during the Salone del Mobile and follows on from Gilad's 'Butler' series - his 'investigation into the absurd' - which first debuted in 2009. The disembodied valet holds up a panel of wool fabric from the Woolmark Company, acting as a screen. Yet in this exhibition he is hiding nothing, so his function is removed altogether. Viewed from behind, his form is completely abstracted into a wireframe stick figure

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The artist may be fond of trickery in his work but 'I am very literal with my names,' he insists. Pictured is 'House with Two Vanishing Points'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Art of square shape

'Façade No. 10' is made from painted aluminum

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Art of house design

'Pavilion', 2013. Part of the beauty of Gilad's work is its simplicity and linearity. 'I'm interested in the skeletons, which for me are the essay of the piece,' he explains. 'I never try to cover things with flesh and skin'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Curved inwards to create Gate

To create some of his sculptures, Gilad has stripped objects of their intended functions and used them to new ends, such as a pair of doors that have been curved inwards to create 'Gate'. 'It can lead you to another world,' he says. 'You must use your imagination'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

White coloured hall at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Installation view at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Board with electrical wiring pluck

'Voltage' is a highly charged sculpture made from electrical components

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

circular shape pins art at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

'City Square', 2002, is an earlier example of Gilad's reuse of existing materials, which also muses on urban spaces. 'It's important for me to show [in this exhibition] that I am not inventing anything new - I am using the same ideas with different outcomes'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Tree shape art at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

'Nine boxes' follows on from earlier works that spring from 'an obsession about domestic spaces, about boxes'. Like all the works in the show, the boxes' function has been stripped away. Why did he choose to show so many functionless works? 'I think you can show chairs and lamps everywhere else. This gallery is the right volume to take things to extremes'

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Boxes and the way they open and close

Installation view at the museum. Pictured, left, are his explorations into the idea of modes of display in gallery contexts, such as frames and pedestals. 'Here, it began with the idea that perhaps the pedestal has its own life,' says Gilad. In one work, the pedestal has been inverted into a hollow artwork, while in another, the pedestal and the sculpture are one. Pictured, on the right, are more explorations into boxes and the way they open and close

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Floating House at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

'Floating House' hovers between two pedestals in the exhibition

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Tent look art

It may be crafted from oxidised iron, but 'Tent' looks like it could float away in a gust of wind

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)

Ron Gilad, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

To create 'RG2', once again a functional object has been turned on its head - or corner, to be more precise. Sit on this at your own peril

(Image credit: Ron Gilad)