Louisa Edwards It provides a place for darkness to exist within beauty and for both of them to be compatible.
By Mary Truong November 12th, 2020
Dusk/dawn, sky/earth— these are natural dichotomies that Louisa Edwards examines within her paintings and installations. She explains that animals often operate by natural cycles and that these cycles often structure human lives as well— “ritual is always created by a natural force, like the seasons, or night and day, and ritual fuels repetition.” By using natural dichotomous relationships, Edwards can reveal how oppositional ideas may overlap and how information is stored, taken, and structured through each idea.
“Even ideas that are oppositional— when they meet heads, they become permeable to each other.”
One framework that Edwards explores through her painting is cyclical versus mathematical organizations of time; the cyclical corresponds to natural repetitions whereas the mathematical are constructed by humans. In her Dusk & Dawn diptych, she hangs two paintings on unstretched canvas in front of each other, creating a space where the viewer can be “caught between this portal of losing and gaining light… day and night.” She notes that there is an interesting dynamic in how the paintings reflect each other. “When you look in the mirror, you think you’re seeing an exact replica of yourself, but really, you’re seeing what is the opposite of what you actually look. Dusk and dawn are this dichotomy that are oppositional, when really, they are the exact same thing.” Though Edward’s art maintains cyclical ideological gestures, formally, they depict grids and repetitive patterns in reference to more mathematical considerations of time: calendars and lists. These two frameworks, though different, are not incompatible with each other: they intertwine, resonate, and sound off each other.
The material choices that Edwards makes add subtle sociological layers to her art. Leaving her on unstretched canvases and suspending them from the ceiling evokes hanging tapestries and departs from traditional painting. The grids that she uses additionally contribute to ideas of textile by recalling quilts (in fact, Edwards imagines the next artwork she makes to be a quilt). By making overt references to craft, Edwards seems to simultaneously eschew the notion of art being a commodity about “worth and the money stored in it” while also imbuing her work with femininity and care. “I think that’s important to me, too… the work that goes into it, the time is spent with the piece… you’re living and breathing into it.”
“After an artwork is finished, I want to be able to approach it as a viewer who didn’t make it would be able to approach it.”
Edwards describes her artwork as a “store” of information, and if this is the case, she profusely bestows her work with her ideas, time, and patience. In some of her works, the canvas she paints on becomes so full that it overflows and spills onto the ground. This act of profusion allows the work to be generous; profusion means that the work has something extra to spare to its viewer. In the future, Edwards hopes that she can make more site-specific work outside of a gallery setting— something that pays tribute to its environment. Making work that can have importance outside a human’s gaze endows it with a type of independence, and giving the work the capacity to “give and take” or “breathe in and out” of its viewer seems to present the work as its own being. In an ideal form, the work would maintain this independent, giving presence even when its creator faces it. In this manner, Edwards establishes one more dichotomous interaction, allowing ideas to become permeable to each other, flowing in and out between the two spheres of artwork and viewer (whoever and whatever that may be).
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