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Ed Templeton - Symptoms

ANTWERP, BELGIUM - Ed Templeton (as seen in photo 1) is our modern day’s homo universalis. He started off his career at the age of 13 as a skateboarder. At the age of 21, he started up the Toy Machine Bloodsucking Skateboard Company for which he did all the artwork. From then on, Templeton has been reinventing himself constantly to the point that he can be described as a professional skateboarder turned entrepreneur turned visual artist turned videographer turned photographer.

His latest exhibition "Symptoms" can currently be seen in the Tim Van Laere Gallery in Antwerp. California-born Templeton explains the title as follows: "I feel like we live in a symptomatic society. All of our social ills are symptoms of behaviors and we always seem to worry about the symptoms but never try to change the direct cause. It also reminds me of drug commercials here in the US, and how silly they are. It is a word that brings these sorts of ideas to mind for me."

The exhibition gives an overview of the different disciplines that Templeton has been exploring through the years. He started experimenting with photography in the nineties. His style was quite typical for that time: a raw mix of personal experiences and documentary of other people's everyday lives. The pictures of his naked wife Deanna certainly caught the public’s eye: "As I get older I am aware that the only thing people seemed to see in my work is the sex part. It doesn't change the fact that I will still share those photos, but it makes me want to be more subtle with them." The poster for "Symptoms" is a good example of this attitude: we do indeed see a girl in het birthday suit, but the picture is clearly more demure and less candid (as seen in photo 2) than Templeton's earlier full frontal nudity pictures.

Although it is his photography that Templeton is best known for, he actually started painting first. paintings are all very colorful and have a naïve sense of honesty to them. This doesn’t mean it is all about flowers and new-born puppies: the painting of two (half-)naked guys hanging on a rope (as seen in photo 3)for example is rather unsettling. It may not come as a surprise that he calls Egon Schiele, Balthus and David Hockney his main inspirations.

A lot of his work, which also includes videos (as seen in photo 4), is presented in a collage-like way. The grouping may sometimes seem rather random but the colors and subjects in each image are connected with each other (as seen in photos 5-6). By stacking his works together in this way, Templeton has found a way to tell more profound visual stories.

Storytelling is exactly the word that comes to mind when visiting “Symptoms”. Although his pieces all have their independence and artistic value, it is the combination of them all together that has the biggest impact: it feels like stepping into someone’s dairy and getting to know his biggest dreams, fears, problems and joy.

 “Symptoms” can be seen in the Tim Van Laere Gallery (Verlatstraat 23-25, Antwerp) until May the 5th

Photo 1: courtesy of Kasper Demeulemeester

Photos 2 - 6: courtesy of Tim Van Laere Gallery