It's strange to think that, a handful of years ago, Simon Edwards was best known for almost monochrome pieces, ethereal landscapes pictured as if glimpsed from the window of a moving vehicle as it traversed the Canterbury Plains. Colour was used sparsely and subtly, providing mood rather than dominating. In Edwards' artistic journey since that time, the landscape has remained central, the ur-source of the art, but the artist has increased the use and impact of colour, starting with cool, limpid blues and greens as atmospheric tints, then adding fiery red, each exhibition building on and extending the artist's repertoire and abilities. These displays all pointed the way towards the seemingly inevitable saturation, both literal and metaphorical, of his latest works.
Even more remarkable is how beautifully the artist has mastered his current techniques and materials to produce bold, mature work. His images are built as much as painted, with inks and paints layered, pared back, and glazed. The resulting surfaces and textures defy their origins, seeming at times to glow with the inner warmth of stained glass - a feature enhanced by Edwards' use of aluminium as the substrate over which he paints - yet at other times to return the rich but distant satiny softness of encaustic wax.
Drawing influence from the artist's love for 19th century romantic art but keeping a modernistic sensibility, Edwards has produced landscapes which are almost hyperreal, drenched in the sky's deep mists and heady storms. The images, which evoke the lakes and mountains of the inland South Island, are more often than not composites rather than real locations, but carry about them a strong sense of place, one which locates the viewer at the heart of the scene.
The tectonic nature of the artist's painterly technique is illustrated well by his charming collaged pieces. These works act as models for the paintings while simultaneously succeeding as art in their own right. The artist deftly uses torn paper to create stratified ridge lines and edges of valley mist. This is not creating art, it is creating the land itself, and Edwards' orogenies are fascinating while simultaneously providing a glimpse inside the creation of his larger dream landscapes.