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Review: Ed Templeton at Roberts & Tilton

December 12, 2008 |  6:00 am

Ed Templeton's work

Ed Templeton is a force to be reckoned with, even if his work is not particularly original or wise or consistently engaging. When he packs a gallery with hundreds of individually framed paintings, drawings and photographs, as he has done several times now at Roberts & Tilton, the whole exudes an energy — at once extroverted and introspective — that itself is impressive.

Templeton is a professional skateboarder in his mid-30s who lives in Orange County and has been showing his art nearly as long as he’s been earning concussions (nine at last count). Secure in his street-cred as a skater, he seems all too vulnerable as an artist. An air of neediness hangs over the show, preventing him from working through his copious influences (Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, the whole “Beautiful Losers” crowd, Jim Goldberg, Allen Ginsberg, etc., etc.) to reach the particularities of his own vision.

The self isn’t just a subtext to a Templeton show, it’s the main event. His photographs and paintings — and sculptures too — chronicle his  life and travels and, to borrow the title of a self-portrait and the exhibition as a whole, map his “inner war.” Bits of gossip, protestations of loyalty, pithy and pretentious observations, manifestations of love, records of bruises, and rants about politics and religion spill together with all the confessional depth of a Facebook page.

Templeton’s tone vacillates between wide-eyed wonder and weary worldliness. It can get cloying even as the sheer force of his efforts sucks you in. If only he took as many risks with his art as he does on his board.

-- Leah Ollman

Roberts & Tilton, 5801 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 549-0223, through Saturday.

Above: Installation view of Ed Templeton's "Map of the Inner War" (2008). Credit: Roberts & Tilton