11 February - 7 March, 2010
Lars Bohman Gallery
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On February 12 1809, two baby boys were born within a few hours of each other on either side of the Atlantic. One entered life in a comfortable family home called The Mount, that still stands in the leafy English countryside of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the other opened his eyes for the first time in a nameless, long-lost cabin in the Kentucky woods…they never met, but their great parallel lives would transform society and mankind’s understanding of itself.
Adam Gopnick, Angels and Ages – A short book about Darwin, Lincoln and Modern Life, Quercus 2009

The opening of this exhibition falls on the 201st anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Darwin’s theory of Evolution opened up a dramatic new era of discovery while Lincoln unleashed a great tide of blood to uphold the union of the USA and bring about the emancipation of America’s slaves, developing a connection between freedom and sacrifice that exists to this day.

Lincoln’s favourite writer was Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, in whom he saw mirrored a love and respect for mankind, a desire that all people should have the right to live in freedom and equality.

The most recognisable iconic image of Sinclair’s birthplace, Scotland is “The Monarch of the Glen”, the noble stag painted by an Englishman, Sir Edwin Landseer in 1851, a defining image of a country that never really existed in the first place – and still barely does - whose national identity was born from the pages of fiction and the brush of Landseer - a Victorian tourist-artist. “The Monarch of the Glen”, was completed when Lincoln and Darwin were 42 years old, the same age as the artist Ross Sinclair when this project began.

For Scottish artist Sinclair’s second show with Angelika Knapper he explores his/our contemporary relationship with the USA through the idea of the Civic portrait, long fallen from favour but here re-born as the materials for a protest, a demonstration. Located in the gallery but ready at a moments notice to be taken to the streets to help articulate the formless fury of a life with no God.

These works interrogate the reality our Godforsaken world in the 21st century when the very idea of re-inventing the conservative civic portraits of two 19th century icons born two hundred years ago appears like a necessary radical step. Re-imagining portraits of Lincoln and Darwin, as well as Robert Burns and The Monarch of the Glen, Sinclair attempts to visualise a tenuous new landscape of relationships between these cultural, political and scientific torch bearers in order to illuminate a path out of our contemporary darkness.
In this project Sinclair examines familiar themes in his work of identity and geography, the paradigm of Real Life, set in the context of a turbulent international situation.