Scott Chamberlin | sira
Jan 30 – Mar 21, 2020
Robischon Gallery features four, concurrent solo exhibitions by artists Deborah Zlotsky (NY), Ted Larsen (NM), Jonathan Parker (NM) and Scott Chamberlin (CO). Each of the artists investigate abstraction through their primary means of painting and sculpture in large to notably small scale. The artworks on view reveal an uncommon eye toward composition, color and materiality while revealing a sense of humor and an engagement with, and a pursuit of, the experimental.
Robischon Gallery presents "sira," new works in an ongoing expansion of Colorado artist Scott Chamberlin's solo exhibition, "heads," previously exhibited in 2016. In “sira,” the addition of freestanding sculpture, with their luminous glazed heads and unique pedestal elements, shown alongside wall sculpture and powdered-pigment works on paper, Chamberlin’s investigation deepens into the body-as-abstract-form. In his inimitably provocative, humorous and economical configurations of abstracted heads, each title can be translated to mean “head” in a different language as Chamberlin fully embraces the universal. The artist states, “the depiction of the head is the most important part of the body throughout art history. One sees the head depicted more often than the entire figure. It is where the mind resides and it is the center of intellect, thought, memory, understanding, emotional control and more. The representation of the head/face has much potential for the viewer. It is often perceived to be the mirror of the mind. It is where magic and mysteries are located; it is where our imagination resides.”
Chamberlin continues, “For me the importance of abstraction is in its ability to be evocative in very complicated ways and in very simple, fundamental ways. 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. I am trying 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. In this way, the understanding of the work as a head/face is secondary to how it operates as forms in space, elemental color and shape that is aesthetically complete without it having to be identified as a head only.”
Fundamentally, the generous nature of Chamberlin’s work involves ideas and qualities that are not intended to be specific or limit the interpretation of the viewer. The artist notes, “I have always been drawn to the spare, basic, and economical. The work should reflect this. However, the work does make reference to many things specific, including the head. I am interested only in particular aspects of the head and the way these various aspects might be suggestive. The work is exploring the curious space that exists between being somewhat creepy and humorous; intrigued by the sayings, euphemisms, and slang that include the word head. I am interested in the full richness of language; how all of its humor, incredible variety, and exquisite strangeness is revealed, and I have a curiosity about the way gross or repellent things become beauty. In my way of thinking, for the work to be successful, it should be simultaneously odd and elegant, to perhaps reflect an unsettling mixture of strangeness and seductiveness.” In keeping, each viewer is invited to share both the space that the sculptures inhabit and the varied experience of Scott Chamberlin’s cross-cultural world. From the halo adornment of the blue-headed kafa to the stately gold and pink glazed Buddha-like head of sirah, the head, as the focus of the imagination, is fertile ground for the artist’s engaging and wit-filled visionary work.
An influential professor at the University of Colorado, Scott Chamberlin has an MFA from Alfred University, Alfred, New York, and a BA from San Francisco State University. He has been the recipient of numerous honors and fellowships including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Creative Faculty Fellowships, University of Colorado at Unitec in Auckland, NZ, The European Ceramic Work Centre, in s’-Hertogenbosch, Holland, two National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowships and a Colorado Council on the Arts & Humanities Visual Arts Fellowship, as well as several grants for his continuing topiary projects in northern Portugal. He has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions including the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado, Boulder, Aspen Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, Taipei, Taiwan, Pewabic Pottery, Detroit, Michigan, and other venues in Portugal, Sweden, New Zealand, London and the Netherlands. Chamberlin is a sought-after visiting professor and artist-in-residence, and his work is included in the permanent collections of the CU Art Museum, University of Colorado, Boulder, International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York, Denver Art Museum, Dordrecht Museum, Dordrecht, Holland, Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, Museum Het Kruithuis/European Ceramic Work Centre, s'-Hertogenbosch, Holland, and Daum Museum, Sedalia, Missouri.