In his solo exhibition Gargoyles and Escutcheons, Chicago artist David Richards offers an installation of uncanny wall sculptures that defy easy categorization and casual acquaintance. Mysterious yet familiar, these works exist in a slippery space between abstraction and representation. Both biological and synthetic, his playful reliefs bring to mind plant forms, faces or machines that have been disassembled or seem to be missing a piece.
It is this idea of absence, or of forms and systems that have broken down over time, that fascinates Richards. Often seeing his objects as characters with stories to tell, he uses his work to explore the concept of disability without delving into identity politics. From his point of view, everyone becomes disabled if they live long enough, so he imbues his sculptures with a sense of history, of loving wear and a life well-lived. The exhibition’s title, Gargoyles and Escutcheons, refers in part to his viewpoint that his creations are monsters which, although they may not fit our traditional ideas of beauty, are still powerful, stunning and capable of fascinating us.