Recently honored with retrospectives in Los Angeles and New York, Ken Price is recognized and revered for being a key figure in elevating ceramics from craft to high art in the eyes of peers and critics. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Price grew up inspired by the cultural and geographical influences of Southern California in the 1930s and ‘40s and continued to make art until his death in 2012. With an extended career of great focus and creativity, Price’s technically innovative and brilliantly glazed ceramic renderings of ovoid forms embodied the three-dimensional aesthetic of California Conceptualism while redefining contemporary American sculptural practice.
By applying dozens of coats of vibrantly colored acrylic paint to the exterior of his creations and subsequently sanding them down to reveal slight glimpses of underlying layers, Price achieved the difficult visual sensation of depth and complexity on his smooth surfaces. In the current work, Whispering's radiant painted green shell glows with speckled granular hints of pinks, yellows, and reds giving it the illusion of an iridescent amphibious skin. Though its globular body is dry and hardened, it deceptively appears supple and slippery to the touch. As often ensues with Price’s creations, the works abstract and irregular shape suddenly becomes natural and familiar. With its luminous, multi-chromatic patterned surface and sensual organic curves, Whispering takes shape as creature-like molten, straddling the boundaries between stiff and malleable, inanimate and alive.
This work also reveals Price’s interest in addressing the notions of both form and void in the same sculptural entity. While appearing to ooze and undulate outward in all directions in rising peaks and swells, the clay mass slumps into a cavernous mouth at its center. The chasm, large enough to coax the viewer’s gaze into its hollow, mysteriously escapes into what appears to be a predominantly solid object. It becomes clear that despite its scale, the piece simultaneously occupies and creates space. This ambiguous juxtaposition of insular containment and freedom of movement creates a unique visual and psychoanalytic drama that is consistent throughout the artist’s oeuvre. Playful and wonderfully imaginative, Price’s sculptures continue to invoke both pleasure and introspection.