Ed Templeton recently held his biggest art show to date, exhibited at the S.M.A.K. Gent in Belgium. This video, shot by Emerica, documents the show and captures the opening night for your viewing pleasure. For those interested in attending, “The Cemetery of Reason” runs through June 13th, 2010. Enjoy!
Citadelpark, 9000 Gent
The Cemetery of Reason is conceived as a mid-career retrospective of the American artist Ed Templeton (b. 1972). The S.M.A.K. will be assembling into dazzling clusters of images the photos, paintings and sculptures he has done over the last fifteen years. The exhibition tells the story of a pro skateboarder, a photographer, a drawer, a painter, etc. A story which, although it focuses on his own life and those of the people around him, transcends the autobiographical and exposes social and societal phenomena unhesitatingly but without pointing a finger.
Ed Templeton’s work cannot easily be categorised. He was brought up in Orange County, a suburb of Los Angeles, and spent his youth in a world of skateboarding and punk music. While still very young he became a professional skateboarder and at the age of 21 set up his Toy Machine, a Bloodsucking Skateboard Company, for which he did all the artwork. From an early age he was passionate about drawing and painting, and was enormously stimulated by the work of Egon Schiele, Lucas Cranach, Balthus and David Hockney. Photography has also always been a constant interest. In the beginning he used his analogue camera as a recorder to capture inspiring images. In the mid-nineties he also started using it as a medium in its own right and since then his photos have been an integral part of his work. In the same way as he was never able to choose between skateboarding and being an artist – they fuel each other – nor has he ever been able to limit himself to one particular medium. Photos, paintings and sculptures complement each other, and are of equal worth, without hierarchy. Templeton often describes his drawings, photos and paintings by means of anecdotes, feelings and ideas that give a new, more profound interpretation to the images. When assembled in an exhibition, these images are deployed as parts of a broader story, but without losing their artistic independence.
Templeton mainly documents his own life and that of the people around him. He does portraits of himself and his wife Deanna, friends, family and the many people he meets on his skateboard tours. The photos he takes do not focus on skating itself, but on all the associated activities. The boys and girls who hang around near a skate park, the boredom of touring, the bloody falls, the late-night parties and the intimate encounters with his wife in anonymous hotel rooms. His career as a pro skateboarder means he spends a lot of time with youngsters who are at an uncertain phase of discovery in their lives. With dreams, hope, worries, the formation of identity and the presentation of the self to the fore. Templeton is ‘one of them’, a pro skate legend and an ‘example’. This gives him the opportunity to come very close to the world they live in and to record it. He depicts their sexuality, fears, aggression, joy and problems but does not judge them. Although his photo installations and paintings are often highly autobiographical, Templeton at no time tries to deal with his own difficult youth. On the contrary, he wants to create openness and offer insights and opportunities to those who want to grasp them.
The Cemetery of Reason takes the form of a whirlwind of photos, sculptures, drawings and paintings. In some cases, images are clustered by subject and reveal certain phenomena or events, but not in an imperative manner. Some of the walls of the museum are covered with hundreds of photos, drawings and paintings that spread through the room like a virus. One example is Faith Fear/Fear Faith, a cluster in which Templeton depicts the ‘cruel’ side of religion by means of black & white photos. In other places a single painting gets all the attention, as do a number of sculptures of heads several metres high, colourful portraits in profile which take over the room. Several ongoing series of photos are also presented, including The Sleepers, from the S.M.A.K. collection, Teenage Smokers and The Kissers, all of which focus on a very specific subject. The thread running through the exhibition is a new and ongoing series of photos entitled The Seconds Pass, which Templeton takes while he daydreams in his car on the road.
Ed Templeton is represented by the Tim Van Laere Gallery in Antwerp, Roberts & Tilton Gallery in LA and Nils Staerk in Copenhagen.