Wait in Line by Ian Tweedy, at Galeria Monitor

Galeria Monitor is hosting until 22 January 2022 Ian Tweedy’s first solo exhibition in Portugal. Wait in Line brings together fourteen works based mainly on book covers or old photographs.

Wait in Line shows Ian Tweedy’s archivist side, who always works with long-lasting images, already seen by someone or belonging to the collective memory. At our eye level, and displayed linearly on Monitor’s small walls, the works have a figurative character and force us to get closer. The exhibition’s first moment is marked by the monochromatic tones of the works Wait in Line (2021), Angels Skeleton (2021) and These Hills Have Folds (2021). In these three works, we see Tweedy’s meticulous hand, superimposing elements and techniques always on the small format. The history of each image is visible. The support bears the signs of the passage of time: the works belong to the past and present.

In the first room, we also see Red Head (2021), which kicks off the exhibition’s second moment with a burst of red and the drawing of the only fully visible face in the entire exhibition. Red Head (2021) shows the portrait of a woman, Tweedy’s only protagonist who does not opt for anonymity, but who also does not give us information about her identity. In Monitor’s second room, the explosion of colour happens. Tweedy splits between blue, ochre, red and black to develop overlapping narratives that are born on old book covers. The worlds painted by Ian Tweedy, though figurative, display a ghostly aura with an abstract profile as if there is only silence between visible bodies. Some figures in his compositions have detailed robes and fabrics, which cover their faces. In Blue Tarp (2021), two people appear with their faces covered by fabrics and, although we do not know their identity, something brings them together, making us speculate about the relationship between the two. The large yellow frame, painted around these figures, adds warmth to this portrait and makes us think about the possibility that they are relatives. Run (2021) shows the silhouette of three people, where black and red dominate the composition. Details vanish, shadows control the narrative and the identity of these people is again concealed.

In Ian Tweedy’s several works, the places and environments of his characters always seem to be anonymous, without identifying features, where the possibilities are endless. Tweedy seems to paint non-places inhabited by anonymous faces, crystallising them on book covers that were part of a narrative with specific places and people. We can think that Wait in Line’s works illustrate the non-places explained by Marc Augé: “If a place is defined as identitarian, relational and historical, a space that is not identitarian, relational or historical defines a non-place.[1]” In these works, the artist mixes past and contemporaneity. And, by overlaying stories, he creates new spaces and narratives.

In Wait in Line, there are figures that, despite sharing the same space, seem immersed in loneliness. Using oil painting and drawing, these works show the artist’s interest in the history of each image and object, at the same time as aged book covers are recovered. But, at Monitor, a question arises: why does Ian Tweedy choose to hide the faces of the people who inhabit the places and landscapes in his works?

Until January 22, at Galeria Monitor, Lisbon.


[1] Augé, Marc (1992) Não-Lugares – Introdução a uma antropologia da sobremodernidade. Lisbon: Letra Livre. p.69

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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