Sanquhar Series

The Sanquhar Series is a collection of collage prints I made during my artist residency at MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland during January and February 2020. I find walking and photographing a great way to learn about a new place. I spent a lot of time walking when I was in Sanquhar and took a lot of pictures of the town. One night back at MERZ, I started collaging them with wallpaper in a fashion similar to the image of Brooklyn in the Domino piece.

The images in the series show various places in the town: Hotel pubs like the Nithsdale and the Glendyne, churches like Saint Brides and Saint Ninians. Sanquhar Station connects the village to Glasgow and Dumfries. The Sanquhar Post Office dates back to 1712 and is the oldest operating post office in the world. Street & Stove Pipes, High Street, and Butcher Shop show scenes of the town. MERZ Gallery and A’ the Airts are key locations in Sanquhar’s cultural quarter. I also included landmarks like Old Town Hall, Tolbooth, and Wiggins Pub, where revered Scottish Poet Robert Burns stayed while visiting Sanquhar. At the end of the day, the series is a way of expressing my gratitude to the town and its people.

The series exists as limited edition, 10″x8″ prints on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper and in two sets of eight postcards, “Greetings from Sanquhar”, packs one and two.

About Sanquhar

Sanquhar is a rural community of two thousand people whose past is more grand than its present. The Crichton family built the castle in the 13th century and it was visited, throughout the years by Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Edward I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI, who elevated Sanquhar to Royal Burgh in 1598. In the mid-17th century, the Crichtons sold the castle to the Duke of Queensberry who proceeded to build a pink-stone, fairy-tale castle, Drumlanrig, ten miles south of town. Vacant of its nobility, the castle crumbled. The town was caught up in a few hundred years of religious upheaval as Protestants and Catholics wrestled for control, but, in spite of this, agriculture flourished. In 1712, the town established the oldest functioning post office in the world on High Street. Sheep herding gave way to coal mining and industries that relied on coal emerged, such as weaving and carpetmaking. When capitalism took manufacturing global, the town suffered. Buildings, abandoned, went to disrepair. Sheep remain the largest agricultural product in the region, but the price of wool barely covers the expense. Like many rural, post-industrial, 21st-century towns, Sanquhar relies on a combination of service industry and tourism to sustain its local economy. The people are caught between a rich heritage and an uncertain future. They are kind and welcoming. In recent years, they built a community art hub, A’ The Airts, rediscovered their knitting heritage, and organized a tourism council. When the post office was threatened with closure, they rallied.

Enter David Rushton. The conceptual artist was a founding editor of the Coventry-based Analytical Art in the 1960s and worked in Art & Language from 1972 to 1975. Rushton went on to work on local television issues in the 1980s and 1990s. He maintains a practice of model building, which manifests his ideas about conceptual art. In 2009, he purchased a former lemonade factory in Sanquhar and began restoring and converting its buildings into art spaces. He has since added the old abattoir across the road. In addition to MERZ Gallery, Rushton has opened a Museum of Model Art, ZIP Studios, and established a series of caravans that, in addition to a bothy (i.e., a cottage), provide housing to visiting artists. Rushton is making Sanquhar an arts destination.

From the Residency Journal

The sheep in the road from Edinburgh didn’t stop us from making it to Sanquhar. David, from MERZ Gallery, handed me keys to the bothy and workshop and explained how the solar power and hot water worked. We made plans to meet tomorrow and said goodnight. I needed dinner. The man at the fish and chips shop (Helen’s Kitchen next to Wiggins Pub) asked me if I wanted to try haggis. I said, maybe not the first day, but he slipped some into my order anyway. Tasty. I like black pudding and deep fried things so it was in the realm of my palate. I crossed off what everyone says is a ‘must do’ when visiting Scotland. Back at the bothy, I took a nap. Got up around 11PM, unpacked and situated my things. I went for a walk about the town, up Queens Road to High Street then to the end of town where Sanquhar Castle sits on a hill. The town is quiet. Wonderfully, eerie quiet. And still. One car passed the whole time I was walking.


Days later, on another walk, I found myself at Queensberry Square, which was full of rabbits munching on grass. I couldn’t get close enough as they scattered on my approach. The air was crisp and the clouds from the day’s rain had cleared and the moon was out. I turned on Station Road and passed a mechanic with two antique cars parked outside. The road dead ended at the train station. I headed back down the hill, cut over on Buccleuch Road, and found myself back on High Street near the Nithsdale in no time. I took some pictures of the Tolbooth from the middle of the road and climbed the steps and photographed the empty village.

Collage Prints

Issued as an edition of ten with two artist proofs, prints are available at ARTSHOP. Individual prints are signed and numbered and available framed or unframed.

Folio

Sanquhar: Folio of Fourteen Prints by Ric Kasini Kadour. The folio includes a title sheet and the complete set of fourteen 8″x10″ collage prints on 90 lb Fabriano cold press watercolor paper; 2020. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE

Postcards

In keeping with my practice of making art products, ARTSHOP is releasing two sets of postcards, “Greetings from Sanquhar”.  “Greetings from Sanquhar” postcards, pack one and pack two are available at ARTSHOP.

Exhibition History

Greetings from Sanquhar
at MERZ Gallery, Sanquhar, Scotland, United Kingdom
January-February 2020
WEBSITE

The Veneration of Ruskin

“The Veneration of Ruskin” celebrates the 19th century art critic John Ruskin. The 200th anniversary of his birth will take place in 2019. The project draws on Kadour’s interest in apotheosis, altar making, and still life paintings. The series of eleven collages cannibalize Ruskin’s drawings and Dutch flower paintings. Accompanying the collages is an altar to Ruskin that features a fabric tapestry and a table of objects and flowers designed to evoke the still lifes used in the collage. In addition to an exhibition, the project is manifested in a zine and a catalog that reproduces the eleven collages and the source works Kadour used to make them.

In the catalog essay, Kadour explains that he selected Ruskin because of a personal affinity with the writer and artist, because of his vision of the role of art in society, and because he was “moved by Ruskin’s sadness, the self-torment, and his beautiful mind to venerate him with flowers.”

Kadour works conceptually and manifests concepts in prints, photographs, and small sculptures designed to be exhibited in installation. The project continues Kadour’s exploration of influences that began in 2012 after the death of his grandmothers. In the project, “Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts for Yoko Ono,” each day from December 25th, 2012 to Epiphany on January 6th, 2013, Kadour made a “Christmas gift” for Yoko Ono, gifts for grandmothers who were no longer there, inspired by a cultural grandmother. The objects varied from prints to small sculptures to a collection of Edo-period Japanese poetry to performative acts. Each “gift” was documented and images and the instructions were shared online and through social media and later as a book. The project also continues Kadour’s work using altar making as an expression of contemporary art. The series “My Junk Taste Like Flowers” is both a documentation of objects and an expression of joy about them. This series is photographs of sculptures made with “junk” which are venerated with flowers. Kadour writes, “Arranging my junk was like restacking and reordering memories. The whole was other than the sum of its parts.”

In “The Veneration of Ruskin,” the collages serve as secular version of the Stations of the Cross leading the viewer to an artistic altar. The purpose of this is rooted in an understanding of Modernism that relocates the divine to the individual. Kadour cites a deep human need to apotheosize heros, something that is increasingly difficult to do in our society. While Kadour is interested in expressing veneration for a personal hero, the purpose of the exhibition is to model behavior and encourage the viewer to ask of themselves: Who would they venerate and how?

MANIFESTATION

Installation
Shrine to Ruskin

Shrine to Ruskin is a variable installation of a fabric tapestry, found and plaster objects, and silk flowers on a raised surface. The objects and flowers are intended to evoke the still lifes used in the collage. About Altar Making

Prints
Veneration of Ruskin Collages

The series consists of eleven prints: 10″x8″ collages on 15″x12″ paper. Edition of 5 plus two artist proofs. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE

Zine
Apotheosis Ruskin

This zine, Apotheosis Ruskin, is an aesthetic rehash of the series in book form. Details: 24 pages | 7”x5” | saddle-stitched booklet | 2017 | ISBN 978-1-927587-21-8 | AVAILABLE HERE

Catalog
The Veneration of Ruskin

The catalog shows eleven collages and the source works Kadour used to make the collages. An essay about why Kadour chose Ruskin also appears in the catalog. Details: 28 pages | 10″x8″ | saddle-stitched | 2017 | ISBN 978-1-927587-22-5 | AVAILABLE HERE

Talk: “Ruskin at 200”

In a forty-five minute slide-show and talk, Kadour speaks about Ruskin’s philosophy of art in society, the importance and problem apotheosis in contemporary society (and art in particular, i.e. How do we separate art from problematic artists), and the concept of secular altar making.

Deals for the New Century

STATEMENT

We experience so much artwork online; we forget that what we’re seeing is actually little boxes. I think we tend to confuse these little boxes of information for the actual artwork they represent. Deals for the New Century is the second piece in a series of work that plays with that idea. My goal is to make interesting print panels that stand alone as non-representational works that when assembled, become a common image. In the case of Deals for the New Century, that image is Monty Hall from the iconic TV game show, Let’s Make a Deal. In doing this, I also make something that one cannot truly experience online. On a computer screen, the mind puts the image together. It is only through experiencing the individual panels that one can experience the pieces as intended, as pixelated fragments one must assemble with their hands.

Deals for the New Century was used to illustrate How To Price Your Art (2015).

Details
print on paper
36”x24” (sixteen 9”x6” panels)
2015, open edition

AVAILABLE HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Guns & Other Weapons of Affection

In April 2013, I started listening to “Grenade” by Bruno Mars:

Easy come, easy go, that’s just how you live
Oh take, take, take it all but you never give
Should’ve known you were trouble from the first kiss

Had your eyes wide open, why were they open?
Gave you all I had and you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did

I started thinking about how wrapped up the language of love is with violent imagery. I know it’s not an original topic, but I think it’s worth revisiting. You don’t enter into love. You fall into love. Cupid shoots you in the heart. I will die without you. Hearts are broken. Until death do us part. Music lyrics repeat the rhetoric of love and violence back to us.

Then the week of April 15th, 2013 happened. Let me recap: At 2:49PM in Boston, two men exploded pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A few days later, the entire Boston Metropolitan area was “sheltering-in-place” while the bombers and police re-enacted Fast and Furious 3 in the city streets. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Senate failed to pass the Manchin-Toomey Background Check Deal, a piece of legislation supported by 90% of Americans that would have closed loopholes and forced gun-dealers to check the backgrounds of their customers. Also that week, more than twenty cars in twenty cities in Iraq were packed with explosives and detonated killing seventy-five people. The violence was aimed at disrupting provincial elections on April 20th. To say nothing of the attacks that week in Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, and Bangalore, India or the rockets fired into Israel on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday that week.

From the comfort of my studio in Montreal, I thought about how easy it is to shake my head at violence while listening to Bruno Mars sing,

To give me all your love is all I ever asked
‘Cause what you don’t understand
Is I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on the blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya

In my lifetime, it is unlikely I will see a grenade explode. I will most likely never hold an AK-47. I will never experience a bomb explosion. As such, I will never really be able to muster the empathy needed to fully comprehend the reality of violence. And because of that, violence is a beautiful abstraction. Violence is colorful, dramatic, theatrical. I experience it vicariously in awful movies about spies racing in Minis through the streets of Paris. I watch men punching each other in the face on the hockey rink while I eat chicken wings on the couch. I revel in Warhol’s Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times. And I listen to music without thinking too much about the reality of the lyrics.

One of my favorite paintings is William Adolphe Bouguereau‘s Dante and Virgil in Hell. The protagonists watch as the con artist Gianni Schicchi bites the alchemist Capocchio on the neck in the most homoerotic way possible. And there lies the lure of violence: it is intimate because it is physical. It is sexy because it is powerful. We are reminded of violence everywhere. Security checks are becoming commonplace. You enter a concert, your backpack is checked for weapons. You get on a plane, your shoes are checked for bombs. Signs at hospitals and schools tell you guns are prohibited, as if it is normal to carry guns and these places are the exception.

Violence is part of humanity. It has been with us since the beginning of time and will be with us until the end of time. But so has mythology and religion and unicorns and evil spirits and bad magic. What if violence wasn’t something we actually did but something we simply thought of? What if violence was simply a rhetoric? Not something we did, but something we imagined. It’s beautiful power reserved for song lyrics and pretty pictures.

So I asked myself, what if I embrace the culture of violence, its erotic quality and potency? And then I thought about the objects of violence: weapons. I’d much rather have a picture of a handgun than an actual handgun. I would rather drop an electrofunk bomb than a real one. I would rather have a grenade that exploded in color than one that sent shrapnel flying through the air or into the legs of a runner finishing a marathon. I began to think that those violent song lyrics were not talking about weapons of destruction but weapons of affection. They were recasting grenades and bombs and guns, removing them from the theatre of havoc and chaos and putting them squarely in the arsenal of love and intimacy. They are changing their moral colour.

I began to imagine what these weapons would look like: two-dimensional reductions of form, multiple colors. The result is a series of prints, “Love Guns & Other Weapons of Affection”, that present a grenade, a bomb, an assault rifle, and a handgun as colorful memories of their actual counterparts.

four 8”x10” prints; 2013 ; edition of 100; signed & numbered
pack of greeting cards with matching buttons

AVAILABLE HERE