Drawings, Paintings and Photographs at Roberts Projects
The Spring Cycle: January – March 2022
Every day is the day it is, and there was never another exactly the same in the world. Identity exists only in the soul… for which reason everything resembles everything and becomes simple. The world is things noticed at angles that are different. FERNANDO PESSOA
From nothingness of daily life to moments of pause with an edge
by Rosanna Albertini
Resistance to change, in every state of matter including animals plants and humans, is a long straight line that moves without shaking through a reality that never ceases changing. We keep going, carrying the illusion we have an immutable statue inside, or a shapeless blob, it depends on the angle of your mind, that makes us unique. A secret sameness all life long. We change and are the same. Not without conflict. Had we known before … the present is implacable. Life and death take over regardless.
It takes courage to draw and paint scenes of suburban life as an insider, clear mind and aching heart. Ed Templeton has both. A master of absurdity. Black and white snapshots of the place where his life has developed for quite a long time aren’t only images of the land transformed into geometrical scenery, with space squeezed between sidewalks and roofs too close to his eyes to even have a vanishing point, or a perspective. They are segments of NOW the artist grabbed for an instant. Desiccated walls and words, poles and electric lines, a small American flag whose stars painted on a brick wall cannot shine. Jesus versus Hell, Faith versus Fear seem to die out in their alphabetic body.
But Templeton doesn’t stop there. Symbols and formalisms went to hell? There is still a lot to do observing and transforming the nothingness of daily life into moments of pause with an edge: humans holding within the shell of a distant and impervious look the same vulnerability, the same wondering as everybody else.
Borderline people like the artist himself, the skateboard prodigy. For decades he photographed the human condition of his street companions all over the world and became their hero. They find themselves existing in his images in a way much more essential and deep than funny hair, purple nails or other irrelevant stuff. He paid attention to them. And they share the same shoreline, maybe needing asphalt and sidewalks to roll their lives without giving them a particular direction.
Now Ed Templeton paints his experience, the emotional response to humans perpetuating their existence in a sunny environment that is absurd, very sad and gently regenerating under his brush at the same time. His colors are tender.
And a new world comes up on canvas. The sensitivity to pain that clicked the camera through the inside space of a car to end on a curved little man fragile like a dry branch, watering a rectangle of grass on the sidewalk, transforms the man into a normal guy watering a healthy lawn next to a thick, green bush. A black bird looks away from the corner of the roof.
I would call tenderness the general sensation spread out from all these paintings. Instead of judging, or inquiring, the artist quietly paints persons, houses and sidewalks as if he was trying not to hurt them. The same colors are used for dresses, skin and paint on the walls. Different kinds of skin that wrap organs and daily life.
If sadness in this artworks sometimes makes my eye sockets heavy, my pupils shrinking in front of the girls on canvas — their pupils like bullets ready to fall, or lost in an inner desert — well, sadness is still a noble feeling, the natural reaction to a senseless reality. The Prosperity Gospel piece is pure beauty. The back of a monumental sign, creating shade for a tired man on the ground. ”The hell of the present is finally his kingdom.” (Camus) Electric power structures and wires stand up like phantoms.
Frankly, the reality Templeton presents is scattered everywhere in the city and not only around it. It recently struck me, on a sidewalk in Beverly Hills, the vision from far of a skinny man pushing an enormous, squared cart in front of him, completely empty. I found it strange. While I was looking for the bus, and almost running, that same man blocked me with the cart and tripped me. He didn’t rob me, it seems he was playing. Bumping my head on the sidewalk, I passed out. After I woke up bleeding and blocked by pain someone told me what had happened. I found it meaningless. And I felt absurd, I could have died of nothing, laughing at my own non-sense.