Critics’ Picks


Ian Tweedy

Monitor | Rome
via Sforza Cesarini 43a Palazzo Sforza Cesarini
April 19–June 16, 2018

“My Wall,” the title of this exhibition, feels like a statement. After an absence of many years, American artist Ian Tweedy has returned to Rome, the city where he took decisive steps in his art after a prolific career as a street and graffiti artist who went by the name Dephect. His return affirms an unavoidable need: to reclaim possession of the pictorial surface. Thus there is a perceptible swerve in his research. He abandons the small format he employed a decade or so ago with well-known compositions characterized by meticulous brushstrokes on old linen book jackets—works that formed the “Arrangements of Forgotten Stories” series, 2007–10—to expand his vision onto large-scale canvases. His palette has lightened up, diluting into warmer and more ethereal shades, while nuanced tones lick at the layers of paint.

Although a mix of aesthetics rumbles in these muted yet vibrant works—including graffiti, sculpture, photography, collage, and drawing—Tweedy somehow now confines his lawless, prismatic visions to oils. The human figure is still present but almost always seen from the back, shorn of identity. Light often decomposes the subject, in a process that recalls the experiments with color in Sonia and Robert Delaunay’s Orphism, as in Fixed, Brush, and Green Point (all 2018). The human presence, deprived of defined contours, is reabsorbed into the surrounding natural landscape, scrambling the perspectival planes. The ideas of memory, identity, and belonging that characterized Tweedy’s early work have not been exhausted, but rather are strengthened here within a more intimate gaze, in which personal stories are filtered through collective ones and thus rendered universal.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.