Victor Cicansky – clay artist
As a boy, Victor Cicansky walked through “Garlic Flats”, the east-end of Regina home for many European immigrants in the 1930’s and 40’s. His parents had come to the Prairies from Romania in 1926. The yards he passed were carefully tended gardens from seeds and cuttings that the “new-comers” had brought with them to feed their families through the long, hard winters.
The vegetables and fruits that these gardens yielded made an indelible impression on the mind and hands of this boy – on his soul.
Cicansky’s family was one of “makers” – his father was a blacksmith who later in life worked artistically in metal and paint. In his youth Victor discovered that his vocation was to “push clay and make it interesting”. As a maturing artist at the University of California (Davis), he further realized that his “first recognition of place” was those bountiful gardens of his childhood.
With the encouragement of his teachers plants and vegetables served as models for his ceramic work, and later for his works in metal. Gardens became the true “landscapes” for his art.
This summer the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina has mounted a retrospective of over 100 of Cicansky’s works entitled “The Gardener’s Universe”. On display are several of his vegetable “icons” that consist of carefully arranged jars of preserves with gilt tops, fanciful vegetable chairs and tables and ornate trees of ceramic apples and pears.
As can been seen in his works his attempt to “push clay” resulted in colours that are intentionally vibrant because of multiple painting and firing. His clay works are whimsical and humorous. They reflect the gardens of his past and present life.
Cicansky, in a short film presentation of the exhibition (https://youtube/uJiHR0Vk3j0), says that people have lost touch with nature and the source of their food. He encourages his grand children and all of us to work in the garden since this “is being part of the earth that is your home.”
For him “gardening is like making art and art is like gardening” telling “the world what your experience of life is”. In this age of ecological awareness he and his creations are an encouraging illustration for Pope Francis’ Laudato Si.