Jim Tweedie

Publication: The Times.  
September 2017

Since launching his career at the Compass Gallery, in 1972, when he was taken under the wing of its late owner, Cyril Gerber, Jim Tweedie has acquired a loyal and enthusiastic following.

His work, well-crafted oils and acrylics, painted on canvas, and meticulously and uniformly framed are the result of an imagination on a journey of discovery.  It’s a pity English appears to have no single term for the ability to render the ordinary extra-ordinary, for this could usefully and accurately be applied as a description of Tweedie’s approach.

Parks, cityscapes and other public spaces, painted in Tweedie’s trademark selection of greens, blues and shadowy greys, are transformed into mysterious and wondrous, quasi–narratives, where an event, not defined, and unpredictable, is always in the offing, just over the temporal or literal horizon.

In a sense, Tweedie, who is largely self-taught, is working in a long tradition of landscape, where reality and what is depicted and imaginatively constructed by the artist, inter-mingle and coalesce.

In The Approach, a very ordinary park with hedges and lawns becomes the setting for a wolf or large dog, to emerge, running from the shrubbery, while a boy looks on. In The Wood at the Edge of Town: Day and its companion piece The Wood at the Edge of Town: Night the ordinary world of day with walkers, dogs and geese becomes a moonlit fantasy of white unicorns, stags, owls and doves.

It’s unclear what role these mysterious creatures play in Tweedie’s imaginative lexicon; but animals are everywhere, (dogs, doves, pigeons, crows etc.) populating his narratives with rather more presence and frequency than people. One senses a deep attachment to nature, and a respect for its grace and fragility.

Tweedie is not averse to playing games, drawing attention to his paintings’ own conceit and fictionality.  The Dream of a Small Dog, for example, shows a woman walking a small, white terrier in a sunlight park. The dog appears three times, and the woman twice, somehow challenging the notion that painting depicts a fixed point in time.

Other works freely acknowledge a debt to Tweedie’s artistic inspirations. The cityscape, The Gleam, which shows an abandoned street, where a solitary figure walks under a full moon, contains what he describes as a ‘de Chirico arch’,  making clear the Italian artist’s influence.

From the evidence of these works Tweedie has lived a life of quiet contemplation and honest toil, spurred on by his imagination and copious talent.