Finding the Way – Simon Edwards
30 August - 30 September 2018 - The Central Art Gallery in the Library
Simon Edward s’ exhibition Finding the Way at The Central Art Gallery showcases his wonderful drawing talents – in framed works of charcoal on paper.
Edwards recently returned from research in China where he studied the country’s long tradition of the landscape sublime in scroll painting.
That influence can be seen in this exhibition in the steep, vertiginous aspect of the scenes depicted, and in the lovely materiality of charcoal worked into paper.
From dark to light, from rich velvety blacks to rubbed back whites, Edwards’ eye for detail is meticulous and the overall impression is beautiful and very elegant.
Simon Edwards’s recent works on aluminium are marvelous atmospheric paintings of the imagination. They are of no specific place, but through layers of oil paint and ink vigorously rubbed, brushed and glazed, he conjures dark mountain spaces and lakes under looming skies that feel familiar to us all. In preparatory works he collages views of cloud ridgelines, snow ice and rivers – often from photos taken while walking in the interior. He also sketches en plein air, or on site, relentlessly gathering and honing and reworking his observations in the field before committing to the majesty and artifice of a new painting.
His works, whether collages, landscapes, charcoal drawings or earlier paintings of cloud formations, all extend beyond the representational, regionalist and realist genres and instead become studies of the sublime and the mythological – places that we seem to know so well, yet cant quite identify or lay claim to.
They are at once familiar yet mystical, somewhat like the New Zealand landscape itself. His works allow us to enter and wander within the colour, depth and form of this unaccustomed and yet known “landscape”, our analytical minds disengage and we simply are taken by our senses into an uplifting and awe inspiring world. It is a world “beyond”.
Although one can be reminded of Romantic painters such as Turner and Constable, when viewing his work, Edwards interestingly identifies as a modernist painter, stating:
“The work places itself somewhere between a modernistic reliance of the essential qualities (of the materials and the methods of painting) and an awareness of the traditional forms of the landscape … the work becomes a result of what is happening on the surface at the time and building on chance effects that present themselves, contributing to a sense of space distance and movement.”
Born in Christchurch in 1975, Edwards gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury in 1997. He spent his childhood in the countryside of the South Island, where the Canterbury Plains, with its vast and open skies, met the foothills of the Southern Alps.
Edwards continues to work and live in Christchurch and is represented in many national collections including the Christchurch Art Gallery, Te Puna o Waiwhetu. In 2005 he won the People’s Choice Award in the Anthony Harper Art Prize and in 2006 the first prize in Landscape in the Parklane Art Awards.