Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Ready Made, Made" Part 2

Right around the period of Duchamp's "Ready Made," he did the painting "Nude Descending a Staircase" along with other, more conventional works of art.  When he created "Ready Made," he wasn't quite sure what it was, and it took him a few years to figure out.  Eventually, he gave it the title, "Ready Made."  This idea of taking something from one context and putting it into a new context allows for a transformation of that thing.  That transformation from life to art, along with the boundary between them, has fascinated artists such as Jasper Johns, John Cage, and many more, right up into contemporary artists who are working now in video and other media. It's really about the two categories of experience--life and art--and what the difference is and how this boundary interacts.  

Another interesting thing about my sculpture and Marcel Duchamp's is that my sculpture is made out of wood--shaped wood, carved wood; wood that has weight and physical mass.  Who inspired the use of wood?  It was the other great modernist sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, who was friends with Duchamp. In 1913, Duchamp told Brancusi that painting was fucked--washed up.  For him, painting was no more; a thing of the past.  He also told him that nobody could make a sculptural form as beautiful as an aircraft's propeller.  These conversations they had were very significant for both of them in terms of developing the simplistic form, reducing form down into its essence--just like a propeller--nothing extra, nothing added on.  Just the essence of that form.  Duchamp was a very talented man at living--traveling, living with different people.  He even invented another persona as a woman.  He could travel without a suitcase all over the world with just an extra shirt.  He ate maybe an egg for the whole day and that kept him going.  His work didn't really have much commercial value in the early teens and the 20's.  How he supplemented his income is interesting because he kind of unofficially represented Brancusi and sold a lot of his sculptures in the United States as an underground dealer.  So that's another connection that I tie into with this sculpture, because its based on the ideas inspired by Duchamp.  However, the material and celebration of form, and the essence of form is a reference to Brancusi.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Ready Made, Made"

This piece is called "Ready Made, Made."  It's made out of wood and epoxy resin.  It's a sort of homage to Marcel Duchamp.  In 1913, he drilled a hole through a round stool and stuck the stem of the bicycle wheel up into it so the front fork holds the wheel upside down.  This was the beginning of "Ready Made" before he called it that.   He didn't really think of it as a sculpture, he just did it because it gave him amusement.  Then, in 1915, he went to the US, around the time he did the Urinal at the Armory show, and still, he didn't take it so seriously.  He came up with the name "Ready Made" to describe it.  The bicycle wheel is the first "Ready Made," and it still resonates through conceptual art to this day.  He came up with the idea that by taking something from life, like a bicycle and stool, and putting it into a new context of an art gallery or museum, it suddenly becomes art.  The notion that there's no boundary between art and life has interested conceptual artists right through to our times.  Exploring this boundary has become quite commonplace.

 The idea for my piece, "Ready Made, Made," has been in my mind for a long time.  Its origins go back to my early years, when I first learned about Duchamp and his new approach to making art.  There's a kind of Talmudic philosophy of discourse involving switching sides, taking your opponents philosophical worldview and arguing for it instead of against it.  I guess that's what I'm doing with my wheel.  In other words, I'm doing just the opposite of Duchamp, in that nothing about my piece is "Ready Made."  Instead, it is elaborately hand-crafted, and represents the opposite sentiment about the boundary between art and life.  I'm not exactly sure what it means.  I've been thinking about it for a long time, but I never quite figured out whether I'm a genius or an absolute moron to do it.  In the same way Duchamp simply felt compelled to fasten a wheel to a stool for sheer amusement, I felt the same way--I just wanted to do it.  Of course, I did it because of the art historical opportunity, but also because I love working with this material; I love the proportion of the wheel and it's weight. I love the challenge of making it rotate in a simple, satisfying way; the way a bearing on a bicycle wheel just rolls without any resistance.  I love the design of the front fork and the way I made a wheel out of solid wood. There is a certain wonder that comes from making something so ordinary from scratch by yourself.  It's almost as if it is the first wheel ever invented.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Sculpture in Progress

 Rick is working on a new sculpture... Can anyone guess what it is?

Friday, December 9, 2011


I moved to Toronto in 2006 and set up my first studio at the corner of King and Bathurst.  I wasn't sure what to do, so I spent a lot of time looking out the window, and thinking to myself, "What is it that makes Toronto, 'Toronto?'"

The CN Tower is the city's most iconic landmark, so I started making pictures of what it looks like from different neighborhoods.  It's always looming in the sky, wherever you are in the city, like an aboriginal totem pole found on the West coast. 

Original Drawing, 2007 (Digital Print Available)

Woodblock Print, 2007 (Print Available, $300 each)

Woodblock Print 2007  (Print Available, $300 each)

Woodblock Print 2007  (Print Available, $300 each)

Original Drawing, 2007 (Digital Print Available)

I wanted to show the CN Tower's special power, so I imagined it taking off.

Original Drawing, 2008

Silkscreen Poster, 2011

Silkscreen Poster, 2011

Silkscreen Poster, 2011

These posters can be purchased from me directly for $35 + HST plus shipping and handling by sending an email to rickoginzart@gmail.com
They can also be purchased framed for $100 + HST plus shipping and handling
Or, you can pick it up from my studio.

They can also be purchased at these locations:

Off The Wall Art and Custom Framing @ 450 Queen St. West

Beadle @ 1582 Dundas St. West

Birthia @ 1599 Dundas St. West

There's another visual aspect of Toronto, that I've come to enjoy--instead of looking up; looking down at the street scene.  It's such a great city for walking, and the street cars are so wonderfully archaic, that they keep traffic moving at a walking pace.  I imagine storefronts that evoke our desire, so I make up all sorts of things that are for sale.

Original Drawing, 2009 (Digital Print Available)

Original Drawing, 2009 (Digital Print Available)

Original Drawing, 2009 (Digital Print Available)

Toronto has such an inferiority complex, that whenever I say, "I moved here from California," the response is always, "Why?"  These images are my answer as to why I moved to Toronto.    

Thursday, September 1, 2011


HEMI is GOD.  The name refers to a particularly big V-8 engine that Chrysler Corp. produced (and still does) around 1957.  It’s short for hemispheric.  The top of the combustion chamber is a hemisphere so that the valves could be at a 45 degree angle and the spark plug at top center.  It was state of the art in 50’s and got more horsepower per cubic inch than a Chevy or Ford. You get more power by burning more fuel. 

The sculpture altarpiece “Hemi” is another homage to combustion.  The closed doors depict a supercharged “HEMI.”  When you open the altar, you see 4 images on the doors.  They are architectural, as if they were rooms, or like little altars in themselves.  They show the combustion chamber, and the 4 cycles of the internal combustion engine.  The first, top left, is the intake.  The valve is open and the piston is on its way down, sucking in the air and fuel mixture.  Then, in the second cycle, top right, the piston is moving up, compressing the air and the fuel.  Third cycle,  bottom left,  the spark plug has fired and ignited the fuel and air mixture, driving the piston down, the power stroke, turning the engine crank and releasing power.  In the fourth cycle, bottom right, the exhaust valve is open, and the piston is coming back up, pushing out the burnt offering. The center of the altarpiece is 3-D fire in its glory.  This piece depicts the four cycles as a sacrament.

People in the future will think that our huge commitment to the prestige of the internal combustion engine over so much of the earth and for such a long period of time must have been our religion.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ark of Combustion

When the anthropologist of the future, 10,000 years from now, digs us up along with the remnants of our society, what will he think of us?  That’s what these altar pieces contemplate.  My rendering of these combustion engines is evidence of a mysteriously widespread activity that, for the anthropologist of the future looking at our past, would have no explanation for except religious.  Looking at our material culture out of context, separated from their uses in our everyday lives, the anthropologist of the future can only speculate that these machines were a part of spiritual quest.  This is a religious ark to combustion—a celebration of the many holy ways in which we burn fuel.  To people of the future, we will be known as “The Fuel Burning People.”

The front of the altar is a barbeque that burns propane.  We use propane instead of charcoal because it burns fuel quicker.  The two front panel doors are gold-leafed.  The image of the barbeque is carved into the gold-leaf and then washed with red ink.  The ink is absorbed into the wood and then wiped off the gold-leaf. When you open the ark you see 6 carved and painted small side panels.  They depict the different ways in which we burn fuel—on snow, in water, in the desert, on mountain roads, and even in our kitchens. A domestic stove is not holy enough for the “Fuel Burners.”  Only an industrial Viking Range stove will do justice to the ritual. 

The center piece is the F1 rocket engine that powered the Apollo missions.  That engine has become a source of wonder for me because it’s in Woodland Hills, near where I used to live, in a parking lot of what used to be a Rockedyne factory. 

It’s unusual to just see the rocket engine alone, because it is usually accompanied by its huge fuel tanks.   The rocket idealizes the vast consumption of fuel within the shortest span of time.  The anthropologist of the future will see these as sacraments that denoted one’s status to God, according to how much and how fast the fuel was burned up.