Robischon Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of influential Colorado artist Scott Chamberlin. “Heads” showcases the artist’s newest series of ceramic wall sculptures that continues an ongoing exploration of Chamberlin’s interest in the body as form. With his inimitably provocative, humorous and economical configurations, the artist’s subject for the series, the head, represents where the mind resides; the center of intellect, thought, memory, understanding and the repository for perceptions of identity. Fittingly so, it is also the locus of imagination – fertile ground for the vision of Chamberlin. With a spare sensibility toward capturing the essence of abstracted human form, Chamberlin is never averse to place himself at the intersection of the eccentric and the elegant – a location where the strange can morph into the seductive, and the disturbing into something beautiful. For “Heads,” an aspect of Chamberlin’s work, is to offer a shift from a simple rudimentary reading of the universal head-form into one that conveys a more confounding, complex and mysterious content.
In equal measure to their potent forms, the artist’s sculptures are viscerally inviting with their surprising textured clay surfaces with vibrant or lustrous glazes. Formally, each head holds its own personality from one to the next – such as a seemingly elemental but bizarre sweep of clay atop a round form implies hair on one work, but as an element for a different head, twigs suggest a beard. The combined vocabulary is both primal and refined with unexpected color and highly textured finishes ready to engage the eye. The titles of the sculptures designate each work with a word that means “head” in various languages such as Catalan, Esperanto, Japanese and Yoruba. Yet, Chamberlin’s initiative is to also take the viewer away from conclusions that are overly reliant on the intellectual to contemplate the work, as it is the experiential perceptions of the evocative that transcends the intellectual. Chamberlin states, “I am interested in making artwork that is understood or apprehended through involuntary or unconscious urgings – in ways other than through reason or intellect. I want the response to be more instinctual, to come through the gut more than through the head. This does not mean the intellect is not used, it means the intellect is not the starting point. I am somewhat skeptical of the intellectual response, primarily because it is so often manipulated by so-called education and fashion. I seek to make work that presents itself before language forms, before it can be given a name. In this very complex, information based world, it appears experience or assimilation without language is diminished.” Within this context, Chamberlin’s heads offer the viewer a different and open-minded perspective. Meeting face to face with each new work, a kind of reverberation is possible – purely seeing each sculpture’s wonder in form or sensing the magic that a past idol from another culture might possess. Felt and imagined, ancient and contemporary, Chamberlin’s “Heads” offer both the compelling vernacular of abstraction and an investigation deeply rooted in the personal as well as the universal.