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"Ancient Land Plan No.4"
David Edwards, "Ancient Land Plan No.4," oil on canvas, 36” X 54”.
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"Land Elements #1 (Triptych)"
David Edwards, "Land Elements #1 (Triptych)," oil and collage on canvas, 12” X 36”.
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David Edwards, "Rolling," oil on canvas, 30” X 24".
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"Forest Abstraction No.2"
David Edwards, "Forest Abstraction No.2," oil on canvas, 40” X 30”.
DAVID EDWARDS, Land Forms
Agnes Bugera Gallery, Edmonton
March 10 – 24, 2007
By Amy Fung
The mysterious abyss of light and shadow where the horizon meets the break of light is at the center of David Edwards’ latest work. Luminescent and austere, the glow consistent throughout Land Forms suggests an unfathomable possibility against the surrounding shadows.
Moving beyond the turbulence of painting in a war-ravaged and disconnected world, the Zimbabwe-born, Vancouver-based Edwards is not interested in creating a narrative - rather, all of his pieces stand alone as nostalgia confused with realistic depiction.
In the tradition of Turner and other late Romantic-era landscape painters, the importance of conveying natural light, a symbol of abandonment and transcendence, in a rapidly modernizing world is once again a relevant social concern. The power of light to surpass the traditional view of landscape, rural or urban, remains a compositional motif that speaks to the power of art.
These contemporary abstract landscapes are rendered from old photographs and subconscious memories. Heavy mists of light, glossed over in a thick varnish, evoke a sense of lost tranquility sealed and preserved for further study. Nature of this calibre may have ceased to exist in the present everyday, and for Edwards, his search for the natural leads him to a state of the ephemeral.
This pristine landscape doesn’t actually exist outside the frame - this moment in nature may have existed in another time and place, but in Edwards’ world, these landscapes are clearly past fragments rendered from the folds of history. Even in the title of the exhibition, Land Forms, there is a double connotation – in the forms on canvas as well as the idea of how land can be formed. Layers of nature, or the idea of nature, have constructed our idea of how natural landscapes should look. Nature changes, but landscape painting and artistic traditions have not.
Edwards’ use of the words, “abstraction” and “ancient” in the works’ titles further complicates the idea of natural realism - it suggests a representation of things past. Recognizable as wilderness landscapes, with the shapes of trees brushing alongside similar forms and the filter of light reaching down to the crevices along the larger shadows, Edwards has simply conveyed the idea of natural landscape.
His work is not entirely abstract in the stylistic senses of the Group of Seven, or even the emotive strokes of Emily Carr’s early abstractions, Edwards’ pieces in comparison fall more to the side of formal realism. His abstraction comes from his subject matter, his choice to pursue untouched nature, where the necessity of abstraction comes into play.
Transforming nature by way of artistic intent was once considered an act of immortalization in the late Romantic era. Now, at the beginning of the 21st millennium, immortalizing the decadence of nature by way of art is at last the transformative act.