VICTOR CICANSKY: THE GARDENER’S UNIVERSE
June 8 to October 27, 2019
Kenderdine, Hill, Ipsco, RHW Galleries

The MacKenzie Art Gallery is pleased to present the first comprehensive retrospective of the influential Saskatchewan ceramic and bronze sculptor Victor Cicansky. As one of the main instigators of the Regina Clay movement in the 1970s, he is known nationally for a stance that asserts history and locality as a vital source for creative expression. But Cicansky has never been solely a Canadian Prairie regionalist. His work speaks to a range of contemporary environmental concerns and points to the fact that nature—and by extension culture—is at its healthiest when it resists monoculture and celebrates nature’s variegated forms. Humorous and full of metaphoric potential, his work engages the viewers’ creative imagination in order to question and position themselves in the world.

Curated by Timothy Long (Head Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery) and Julia Krueger (craft writer and curator), this will be the first retrospective exhibition to include both Cicansky’s ceramic and bronze production. Drawing on public and private collections from across Canada, the exhibition will present five decades of work ranging from early Funk experiments, to ceramic Mason jar pantries and Bonsai bronze trees, to ceramic wall murals and park-size bronze tables and benches. The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial monograph and documentary film, leaving a lasting legacy and contribution to Canadian art and craft history.

BIOGRAPHY Victor Cicansky (Czekanski) grew up in a large family headed by Romanian parents in an area of Regina known as the “Garlic Flats.” Here Cicansky witnessed firsthand the interdependence of gardener and garden and the constant invention of his blacksmith father. After studies with noted Regina ceramist, Jack Sures, he pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Davis where he expanded his artistic vocabulary under iconoclastic Funk ceramist, Robert Arneson. In 1970, he returned to the University of Regina where he taught Art Education and worked alongside other revolutionary Regina-based ceramists such as Joe Fafard, David Gilhooly, Ann James and Marilyn Levine, who together pushed against the stereotypical understanding of ceramics as pottery. Cicansky took up this cause in a series of memorable ceramic sculptures inspired by his childhood experiences of gardens and “working class” people, including major ceramic murals for the Sturdy-Stone Building in Saskatoon. Adding bronze to his repertoire in the 1980s, Cicansky has continued to unearth the multiple histories that connect us to place and to nurture an empathetic relationship with the natural world. Cicansky’s work has been recognized with numerous honours and awards including the Order of Canada, Saskatchewan Order of Merit, and Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Organized by the MacKenzie Art Galery
Curated by Timothy Long and Julia Krueger

The MacKenzie Art Gallery is grateful for the support of South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture, City of Regina, University of Regina, and Saskatchewan Arts Board.

Image: Victor Cicansky, Root Cellar, 1982 (detail) clay, glaze, and wood 213.5 x 60.5 x 152.5 cm MacKenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina Collection, purchased with special donations.