As in the artist’s series, Light Installations (2002-Present), in which trompe l’oeil environments occupy the space between knowing and not knowing, Temple’s new work continues to implore the reevaluation of received truths. In the painting “UNKNOW, UNKNOW,” former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld’s now notorious, made-up phrase, “the unknown known”, is sent-up. Imploring the Rumsfelds of the world to unknow, Temple’s clarion call seeks leaders who consider doubt an asset to decision making.
In “Terrible Swift Sword,” an eviscerated, dense field of slashed pinks, at once lushly fleshy and sickly pale, makes it all but impossible to mend together the chopped eponymous phrase from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The beauty and repulsion evoked in this piece speak to Temple’s beliefs about “the conflicted feelings many Americans have about the necessity and implementation of this country’s recent wars.”
While “Untitled, Begin Again (all the paint scraped from a failed painting on fresh canvas)” is the only work in the show absent text, it is the title, in this case, that is integral to understanding the work. The otherwise pristine unprimed canvas is smeared and piled with stutters of paint that have been scraped from an earlier, failed, still-wet painting. Far from codified abstraction, it evokes Ezra Pound’s phrase “The artist is always beginning. Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.” Invention is at the heart of Temple’s new work, and each piece finds a different path to discovery.