Will Ryman was a playwright before he became a sculptor, and his work draws as much from the realm of theatre as it does from art. Spanning over 8 metres, The Bed is both a monumental sculpture and a stage. Made from papier mâché, Ryman’s giant man reclines in a dreamy world, somewhere between Sunday morning lie-in bliss and nervous breakdown, basking in the clutter of indulgence. Ryman crafts the accoutrements of pastime with cartoon exaggeration: notebooks, beer cans, open bag of crisps, and even the requisite faithful dog become comically distorted in this clumsy, lazy state of ennui.
Through his use of papier mâché, Ryman’s installation takes on the dimensions of set design. The Bed’s description of slacker-ish idle is humorously at odds with its oversized, commanding spectacle. By revealing the process of making, his clunky forms invite suggestive narratives through their self-conscious artifice, becoming both props and performers in an anti-drama of epic proportions. The bed itself operates literally as a platform or stage, the centre of expectant action and entertainment, a fabricated, self-contained tableau posing in (and overtaking) the viewer’s real-world space with delightful suspension of belief.