Sitting in his studio at Space 4 Art, artist Chris Warr is surrounded by his sculptures—all male faces made mostly of odd materials, some slightly distorted or completely grotesque, others anguished, bold or stoic. The steel showing through the toes of his boots, Warr—a carpenter by trade—explains his compulsion toward recreating the human head.
"I kind of look at these things as ghosts," he says. He admits that a lot of them look like him but dismisses the notion that they're self-portraits. "They're more like icons or archetypes, and it's not exactly clear what they're symbolizing.... But I call them ghosts because they leave something for the viewer to project onto them."
Warr's sculptures are directly influenced by the found or reused materials that go into them. One of his most stunning pieces, a large-scale head carved from glued-together blocks of upholstery foam, looks like it's been torn from an impressionistic painting. Using a razor blade, he cut away large bits of the foam, leaving behind chunky indentions reminiscent of thick, quick brushstrokes.
Warr, one of the founders of Space 4 Art, stepped down from his administrative duties there about a year ago to focus on his art. His work is featured in Imago, a solo exhibition at Boehm Gallery at Palomar College in San Marcos. The show will open with a reception from 1 to 3 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 6.
Outside in the vast parking lot and event area surrounding Space 4 Art, Warr's been attracting small crowds by using a chainsaw on his newer wood pieces for the show. One sculpture, carved from a huge stack of glued-together salvaged plywood, is an elegant, long-necked gentleman with an intriguing face. The newer wood pieces are patch-worked together, a result of Warr responding to knots and other imperfections that come with transforming construction-grade, reused wood into delicate human forms.
"It sort of becomes a collaboration between myself and the material," he says. "I love the surprises and things that happen that make me change my approach or strategy."