The Spring Cycle: Ed Templeton @ Roberts Projects, Los Angeles
We never tried to hide the fact that we're big fans of everything Ed Templeton. From regularly featuring his exhibitions, book releases, commissioned works, and other projects through the years, over a podcast episode with him and Deanna Templeton on Radio Juxtapoz, to having him as a cover artist of our June 2016 issue, he's got a unique way of seeing, capturing, and presenting what humans do. And all of this arguably comes through the most in his painting practice, so that is why we're so excited to see him opening a new painting show with Roberts Projects on January 22nd.
As a multidisciplinary creative Templeton has proven to us over the years that the saying "a jack of all trades, is a master of none" has its exceptions. For some, he is an iconic skateboarder that left an indisputable mark on skateboarding's evolution as well as changed its structure and unwritten rules with his company, Toy Machine. For others, he is a street photographer who provided us with an insight into the world of skateboarding, punk, misfits, and disaffected youth, developing a sensible eye for the true image of suburban America along the way, especially Southern California. And finally, he is an illustrator and a painter whose studio works have the ability to emphasize and underline the things he is seeing with the naked eye and through the lens. "From 2017 to now I have continued to paint and make drawings, having some paintings I made be included in exhibitions with Tim Van Laere Gallery in Belgium, and some drawings being shown with Nils Staerk in Denmark or with Danziger gallery in NYC. But the fact is, that I work in cycles," the Huntington beach-based artist told Juxtapoz, suggesting where the title of the show is coming from. And these cycles seem to be coming together more seamlessly than ever in this particular body of work for a couple of reasons. "When I was tasked with writing about this work for a press release I realized these scenes I'm painting are "photos I missed" or "Hyperbolic Realities". Meaning, there are so many aspects of life here in suburbia that is only glimpsed from afar or are too fleeting to capture on film in a good and usable photograph. So in a way, I am recreating scenes that I have not been able to photograph, things I've seen but not properly captured," he told us about where his paintings are in comparison with his other practice.
It's been almost five years since his last exhibition which was also at Robert Projects, and even though that is a long time, The Spring Cycle seems to be continuing where Synthetic Suburbia sort of left of. "I'm not as interested in seeing a photograph remade as a painting, especially when the painter is using found photos or someone else's work, but I started to realize that I have my own "Getty images" archive that I have built myself. I am not using my photos as a direct map either. Only as crib notes. I will end up using little parts of photos, using photoshop to make a collaged composition using a mixture of drawings and photos, then doing a master drawing from that composite. The drawing will be partly freeform and partly from a photo, and I add details and shadows and trash, etc. This way my 'hand' comes back into it, and it is not a slavish copy of a photograph," Templeton explained how his approach changed in the meantime, resulting in an arguably most accomplished body of paintings he's produced. Staying within the main subject of documenting the human condition, but more precisely, dealing with, and commenting on the suburban environment, the new body of work is certainly incorporating more of his photography work into the painting practice.
"The scenes are also exaggerated or hyperbolic in that I can add multiple elements into a background that is "hyper-suburban" if you will and help tell the story visually. To do this I am using my own photography archive, drawing directly from my film photos, and also, iPhone shots. This is a relaxation for me because in the past I was averse to using photographs as a reference," the artist explained part of the reason behind the more refined images he's been working on for this showcase. Another reason for maturer and smarter compositions, richer and subtler surfaces, or weightier and convincing depth and light effects, are the life circumstances around us. "Since the pandemic started there has been no travel and no events to attend, which meant that I could really work for long periods of time on ideas without distraction. Shooting photos has taken a backseat this time. It was a very productive few years for painting. It feels good to step back onto this stage, but it's scary," the artist suggests there is a great amount of pressure and doubt that accumulated alongside this new work. "Nobody has seen these paintings! So it feels strange to have been working in a vacuum and now the seal is broken and this work will be out and I have no idea how it will be received."
Besides focusing on painting, Templeton has worked on many book projects during the pandemic - he has done the bulk of the work for Wires Crossed, he did a City Confessions #2 London book for SuperLabo, he designed with Deanna Templeton her What She Said book alongside another two small books for the both of them for Nazraeli's One Picture Book series, and in February/March he is releasing 87 Drawings by Ed Templeton which will be available for purchase at the gallery in limited quantities. —Sasha Bogojev
All photos courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects Los Angeles, California