according to GREG EDWARDS, painter
IN A SKETCHBOOK, A STROKE OF BEAUTY IN THE IRON AGE
By Rosanna Albertini
Artist Greg Edwards has driven and drives most of his urban life in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He paints and draws, draws and drives. He paints abstract actions on large canvases in his studio. His body, big and tall, towers over my caucasian, limited size. He needs a big car. Like most artists, he must work in order to survive. Greg is a limousine driver. The first year I moved to Los Angeles, about twenty five years ago, he showed me his paintings in an exhibition hosted by a shopping center in Crenshaw. He was proud to bring me among his people, the African American community in Los Angeles. I ate my first gumbo. I felt ‘white.’ To me, white and European, it was only a deeper immersion in a foreign world, no more surprising than other Korean, Japanese, or Mexican communities in Los Angeles. So many street names sounding perfectly Italian, with effort I had to tell myself they were Spanish, made me feel at home.
I think I decided that day I would never considered Greg Edwards a ‘black’ artist, just a very interesting artist. Time showed me I was wrong. It took years to learn an American history that for most Italians was a fantasy around Uncle Tom and cotton fields. Gone with the wind and no more. Our imagination was stuck in the Eurocentric confidence that we knew almost everything, which is worse than having our thoughts blocked by their own limits. Imagination is the key to what we do not know.
Greg’s art has become to me as important as his friendship. Many obstacles we had to overcome to built a reciprocal trust through personal wounds and stories of pain and separation, and stories of daily violence in the U.S. despite new written rules and equalized civil rights. It’s the IRON AGE: humans must work for survival, they can’t contain their passions, nor regulate the amount of pain they suffer or inflict. They kill, place explosive belts around their waist, lie and betray their families. Hesiod had seen it coming six century before Christ appeared. Terrorism and wars wear iron shoes. I can’t write a new post pretending the massacre in Paris did not happen. Not to mention others in Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, India, Iraq, Palestinian territories and in the U.S., only some among many.
The paintings made by my grandfather Oreste, and the war stories recently written for this blog by his son Alberto, happened in a worse time of bombs, starvation, and dedicated fascists, practicing torture on their human companions if they believed they had different ideas about civility. Yet grandfather kept painting, and his mountains, his lakes were free from the surrounding violence. They emanate hope.
I feel the same in front of Greg Edwards’ drawings: beauty is held by his big hands in a warm human cave among the lines that life has written on his palms. He drives, he has to wait for indefinite time. There, in a buffer space before the necessary adaptation to somebody else’s needs, he opens his notebook and lets his fingers to put images down, shadows of things seen hovering on his mind, already light. He draws them as presents of the moment, as they take place in the thickness of time: textures of feelings as if art allowed him to collect them from the daily confusion and lie them on a paper floor, half dream, half geometry, decoration as well as vanishing wishes more than real in his mind.
like a mouse, like
a red slipper, like
a star, a geranium,
a cat’s tongue or ―
that is a leaf, a
pebble, an old man
out of a story by
rotten beams tumbling,
. an old bottle
from: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS – Paterson, 1946