Talking heads and photo clusters: Ed Templeton’s ‘Cemetary of reason’

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‘The worst trend in art? Calling someone a ‘skate artist’. That’s like saying ‘bike artists’: anyone who rides a bike and does art is now a bike artist. If you are trying to be called a skate artist, you already blew it at life.’  There you go: Ed Templeton, professional skateboarder ánd artist. I’m still trying to figure out why exactly I like his photos and paintings, but I wás impressed by Templeton’s mid-career survey (SMAK, Gent; through June 13). Do drop by, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

Belgian rock fans just recently got to know Templeton, for he was the guy who shot the cover for Admiral Freebee‘s recent album The honey & the knife. Skateboarders are of course already familiar with his name. Templeton stated skateboarding in Huntington Beach, California in ’85. He turned pro in ’90 and started his own skateboard company Toy Machine in ’93. Around that time he started painting and taking pictures too. He was one of the artists in the Beautiful losers-exhibition that portrayed a group of artists influenced by underground youth subcultures (skateboarding, graffiti, indie rock…). It toured the world from 2004 till 2007 and led to the Beautiful losers-documentary.

The cemetary of reason, in Ghent, is Templeton’s first big retrospective. You’ll see horizontal lines of pictures he took over the last 15 years while driving (The seconds pass), paintings (of Mike Mills and Miranda July, for instance), clusters of photos (such as the impressive Faith fear/fear faith, about religion), and some of his bigger and smaller painted ‘heads’. And there’s a video room too where you’ll see fingers flipping through Templeton’s notebooks.

I quite liked the way this exhibition immerses you in the The World According To Ed Templeton. Yes, he mainly documents his own life and the lives of the people around him, but he transcends that as well. As a photographer he obviously has a keen eye and I like his somewhat naive, colourful paintings and ‘heads’.

Want to know more about Ed Templeton? You’ll find his blog (and lots of pictures of him preparing his SMAK exhibition) here. On the occasion of this exhibition there is a book published on Templeton’s work too. You’ll find more on that here.

There’s an Ed Templeton-exhibition in London too, at Elms Lesters Paintings Rooms, until April 17. More on that here.

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