Big Green Head

Big Green Head is the ‘pièce de résistance’ of a series of ceramic heads by Marien Schouten (Andel 1956), which he started working on from the year 2000. Originally a painter, since the turn of the century he has created work that belongs more to the field of sculpture. Previously he had inserted in his paintings three-dimensional elements such as wood planks and grids and steel ornaments. These interventions should be seen as reflections on painting and therefore belong in that medium.
The ceramic heads belong however to the classic sculpture genre of the bust: they are actually heads with shoulders. They almost seem to have been created willy-nilly. Specific problems arise when working with ceramics: if you push a hole with your fingers in a lump of clay, we immediately have an eye. And that is irritating if you do not want to create a visual image, head nor face. Eventually Marien Schouten started to deliberately use this inevitable effect for his own artistic ends. Big Green Head seems to have eyes and nostrils, a beak or snout, ears, a neck and shoulders, but that still does not mean that we have a being that can be defined as such. The back of the sculpture has a robust, almost architectonic shape, with joints that suggest a spine, but also a building. It looks as if the skeleton of the sculpture is still visible, in contrast to the front side of the sculpture which has a flowing, much smoother shape, as if the inner structure has been disregarded. This effect is accentuated by the mirror-bright glaze which through its strong reflections seems to flow off the sculpture, imparting, despite its sturdy presence, something immaterial to the artwork.
The colour of the sculpture is for Marien Schouten typically green. Green dominates his paintings, drawings and sculptures. It’s the colour of Nature, of the glazed bricks of Berlage or the vases of the ceramist W.C. Brouwer, whose work Schouten collects.
Big Green Head is bigger, more rigorous and more imperative than all other heads. It towers on its ‘socle’ of pallets above the visitor. The sculpture was acquired in 2013 and will be exhibited for the first time in February in the ‘old sculpture room’, and will have the heads of Brancusi and Rosso and the earthy sculptures of Moore and Hepworth as its museum neighbours.

Lisette Pelsers
January, 2014