Charles Snowden. Stray Animals

8 Jun 2024 – 13 Jul 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

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Nazarian / Curcio is pleased to announce Stray Animals, a show of new free-standing and wall-based ceramic sculptures by Los Angeles and Barcelona-based Charles Snowden. This will be the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery.

The menagerie of animals, insects, goblins, and gnomes that appear in Snowden’s work are drawn from various apotropaic traditions, including the cults of Greco-Roman antiquity and the pre-Columbian Colima culture of western Mexico, for which they act as wards against evil. Snowden combines these with hands, eyes, skulls, teeth, mushrooms and twigs, seashells, dog toys, jewelry, fishing bobbers, fruit, vegetables, and a myriad of other animated  objects that stand in for the elemental forces of nature. These protective idols reference universal cycles of life and death, regeneration and growth, and destruction and creation - mutually dependent forces that guide all life. 

Guided by the notion of the stray, Snowden has cultivated a garden of symbols where meaning is left free to wander intuitively across disparate objects. Throughout the exhibition, sculptures are grouped together on pedestals in ways that accentuate the multiplicity of forms that populate Snowden’s work and imply their co-existence, building a world where they interact and reproduce — “[m]onstrosities flowering like a flower,” as Baudelaire might say. Wall works punctuate the space and introduce gravity as an important element, giving weight to the strings of charms as they hang suspended. As an introduction to the exhibition, a large wall-based sculpture spells out the exhibition title, Stray Animals, in a series of contorted figures and objects.  

The works in Stray Animals use the language of symbols to explore the boundaries between human and non-human experience. For Snowden, symbols record our awareness of a spiritual realm beneath the physical, offering a means for confronting phenomena beyond human comprehension by giving them a name and a face. At the same time, the symbolic appropriation of nature transforms it from something purely material into the guise of hidden, supersensible forces which can be invoked through the semblance of certain objects or signs. Sculptures like Pyre, Gentle Reminder, and How to Make Clay not only serve as powerful memento mori—reminders of the inescapability of death—but also represent the artistic process as an unexpected outpouring of images, an entanglement of incongruous forms and opposing forces that nevertheless hold together. 

The origins of art in early magic are recalled through the ritualistic logic that orders the symbols making up Snowden’s sculptures. Like religious relics, in which the remnants of a long-passed prophet or saint are believed to possess supernatural powers, the sculptures in Stray Animals treat body parts, insects, animals, and other creatures as ideal forms corresponding to an elemental plane of existence. Their primordial character reveals humanity as only a moment of nature, a single point in an infinitely and unfolding process whose trajectory and purpose defy our understanding. Metaphor is stretched to its limits in Snowden’s work, becoming a tool for connecting extremes and recognizing, like the German poet Paul Celan, that “there are / still songs to sing beyond / mankind.”

Charles Snowden (b. 1989, San Diego, CA; Lives and works in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles, CA) received his BA from Humboldt State University and his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Snowden’s solo exhibitions include Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA; Hill Street Country Club, Oceanside, CA; and Blue Gate Gallery, Oceanside, CA. Group exhibitions include Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA; Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA; San Diego Art Institute, CA; Millard Sheets Art Center, Pomona, CA; and Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, CA. His works are in the permanent collection of the San Diego Art Institute and have been featured in Hyperallergic, Artillery Mag, and Cultured Mag.

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Charles Snowden


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