I was only fifteen when I was given for the first time advice in drawing: To see and render attentively, dark in light.
From the time I was little, I have felt an affinity with the vastness surrounding me: my mother's presence, the immensity of the water and sand at the beach, mountain ranges, the day and the night. These earliest enduring impressions came to me recently while I was squeezing clay in my hand. Clay is the first material I came across when I started sculpting and it is fascinating to revisit working with it, where freedom and permanence feel as one. Squeezing the clay by fistfuls within the stream of feeling and experience, is a tribute to life-altering experiences. My embedded impact imprinting into clay connects with existence.
As clay is rendered small-scale, so is my attentiveness, preparing me to converse on a monumental scale informed by my encounter with nature, living beings, buildings, things. How does one individualize the vastness of space? I am captivated by reaching to the heavens with gigantic telescopes, attentive to the furthest light in the dark. As soon as the first image of a black hole was released, I saw each handful of clay as a planet or galaxy, contained as black holes are, each representing unspoken feelings and unknown physical worlds. As a toddler's squeezing hand becomes the radar squeezing the heavens, so is forming these handfuls of clay a radar of my own feelings and physicality, my radar hand lit by the dark within. I free my energy and clay receives it, imprinting the squeeze permanently. Clay and hand receive each other. Clay and hand mate. Clay and hand join together in handfuls. My fist's nature is rendered in clay. I experience the freedom of working in clay, the element of giving in - and what better way than with the hand that works it. My handfuls of clay are a celebration, embodiment of a world that is a gift received. The fire within appears as a physical feeling. Wooden structures that I admire may sometimes catch fire. I feel the spark of creativity within me like wood that catches fire without being consumed. The Wooden Fire, like creativity, is transient.
The gallery's large-scale industrial garage door that was raised and lowered manually almost every day for the last five years, is now being retired. I decided to use it to set the tone of the show, a tangible tribute to my earliest memories and feelings.
Wonder is labelled as a disconnect with reality; actually, reality is a wonder. I have brought Lego and empty medication bottles as a mark of recognition of the question of wonder: The bottles, as a cage of wonder, are as Lego, fabricated for wonder.
Robert Kananaj is formally educated as a sculptor, with thirty years experience exploring the potential of different materials. Life informs his vision of sculpting. Robert is the director of RKG, based in Toronto.