We dream of travelling through the universe – but is not the universe within ourselves?
The depths of our spirit are unknown to us – the mysterious way leads inwards.
Novalis, translated by Margaret Mahony Stoljar
The first time I saw Paul Edwards’ lush and dramatic drawings was in slide form. Each little 35mm translucent rectangle was like a gemstone emitting energetic rays of whitest light and blackest dark. A dizzy knot. An implosion. Trusting me to find my way in. Daring me.
Seen in person, the physicality of the drawings speaks first. Density of charcoal biting into pulpy paper, the energy of the marks, light of paper, the humanity of making. Ambiguity of scale. Landscape 1V: a series of inverted v’s (are they mountains or blades of grass?) climbing to an apex at top centre seem to carry us forward into space – perhaps – or not. They push us back, out of the picture plane. An inviting barricade. We want to roam the way that we can feel Paul roaming. We are invited to roam where Paul roamed. We are blocked. We are invited into the difficulty of seeing.
In another landscape, a vertical lozenge – shaped cloud of dense energetic pairs of parallel crossing strokes floats on the page, a shape whose frontality is broken only by two deeply massed dark areas that imply rather than mimic spaciality. An organized chaos, almost a pattern. Like a Japanese landscape: flat, special. Swirling, calm.
Self Portrait (head and shoulders): a pectoral muscle jumps off the page, fanning into our space. Quick fan-like strokes around the head move back into space. Self Portrait (torso): radiant Van Goch waves surround the torso. The body is sculptural, yet a flat pattern asserts itself  just as we’re travelling inside and around the muscles and bones, crevices and protrusions. A repeating ovoid shape pulls us to the surface of the paper from left nipple to belly to the outline of a muscle in the forearm.
All of Paul’s drawings are paradoxes. They are not of places, they are places, yet they are placeless. Landscape or figure, they draw us in and push us back. Each drawing, each amassing of line, energy and light, exists like a difficult thought, or the part of a poem where the hard consonants bump against each other, or the insistent whine of the saxophone in a jazz improvisation. To get inside the drawing is to get inside the artist.
Perhaps it is Paul’s own ambivalence, his wish to invite us into his experience, and the will to protect his privacy, that holds us in his thrall and makes the drawings compelling.
Janet Passehl
Janet Passehl is an artist whose work has been exhibited in New York City, Philadelphia, New England, Iceland, France and Austria. She lives and works in the United States.