Feature Articles

August Issue 2001

Works by Coralie Tweed at Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, NC

In wildness is the preservation of the world.
- Thoreau Walden

The pastel and gouache works of Coralie Tweed will be on view at the Blue Spiral 1 Gallery in Asheville, NC, from Aug. 8 through Oct. 28, 2001.

The romantic landscapes of Tweed synthesize the artist's spiritual relationship to her surroundings with an emotionally resonant language of color. The result is vibrant pastel and gouache works that communicate the artist's response to the landscape while constantly reshaping influences from the tradition of western painting. In Tweed's work, a complex visual arena has been constructed in order to articulate ideas ranging from the sublime landscapes of Turner to the vast fields of color and space developed in the work of Milton Avery and Mark Rothko. Tweed frequently refers to Kandinsky when discussing the relationship of the artist's notions of spirit in the landscape, "It is evident that color harmony must rest only on a corresponding vibration in the human soul; and this is one of the guiding principles of inner need, or the artist's need for spiritual expression,"

Over her lifetime, Tweed has built an intuitive relationship with the landscape she paints, constantly striving to expand the vocabulary of color. The granddaughter of F. Leo Hunter, a celebrated painter and print-maker, Tweed spent many of her formative years learning at his side. As a long time resident of Washington, DC and New York, Tweed has had the luxury of being saturated by the presence of painting in both locations. Since then, Tweed's artistic endeavors have led her from New England, where she earned an Associate Degree in Art from Colby Sawyer College, to Paris where she studied at the Sorbonne and a private atelier for painting. When Tweed returned to the States, she resumed her studies at the Memphis Art Academy and after settling in East Tennessee, earned a Master of Fine Arts from East Tennessee State University.

Throughout her career, Tweed's travels have provided extensive information and inspiration that has instigated the rich development of her work. Whether it is her yearly, art focused New York trips or the comprehensive time she has spent in the great museums of Italy, England, Spain and France, Tweed has continued her studies of fine art. Exposure to the world of painting through her grandfather's career, coupled with a lengthy academic study and world travel, has given Tweed a deep appreciation for the tradition of painting, especially the work of Inness, Corot, Daubigny and the contemporary painter Wolf Kahn. It is for these reasons that the profound concerns of the artist as interpreter of matter and spirit have found its way into her work so fluidly.

In the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee Tweed fell in love with the southern landscape that often provides the spiritual and emotional content of her work. Formally, her paintings are based on the abstract structures inherent in her subject matter. Elements of form, light and color found in the landscape create a point of departure through which she pictorially develops the essences of nature. Images come forth not simply as a replication of nature but as a synthesis of its components. "My consciousness changes constantly as well as my reaction to place and mood," Tweed recollects.

But Tweed's love of the landscape extends much further than the American South, and often her process of organizing and constructing space has called for excursions to the sites that inspire her. Because of this, Tweed has made many trips to Europe and all over the United States with the specific intention of painting the landscape. Observation of these distinct environments is a complex ritual that includes the production of sketches, compositional notes and small-scale paintings that detail changing light and color. In addition to her intuitive methods, Tweed has seamlessly integrated use of photography into her process in order to capture the ephemeral moments of light and movement that inform her painting. This technique borrowed from the French Impressionists is just one example of Tweed's ability to reshape ideas in order to fluently communicate her experiences in the landscape.

Other signature characteristics that Tweed has appropriated from the French Impressionists have to do with her emotionally evocative method of pastel application. Tweed's marks are impetuous and reactionary, illustrating an expert understanding of light and color within an intuitive response to her subject matter. In the painting "Buffalo Mountain", the view from Tweed's Tennessee home is rendered using warm purples and magentas that augment the already magical hour of dusk. In works like these Tweed's ability to use color in an emotive fashion is most clearly felt. By focusing on subtleties of light and color, Tweed fluently describes the powerful elements and forms found in nature, through the lens of her own internal landscape.

Tweed's willingness to disclose her emotional reactions through her use of pastel has been instrumental in creating a sense of place that is so intriguing it leaves the viewer longing to be a part of the painting. The appropriation of formal conventions from inspiring painters of the past combined with Tweed's spiritual connection with landscape is what makes her work resonate. Her willingness to communicate these spiritual encounters with devout belief in the world she is painting has made the experience of her work so convincing.

On an intellectual level, Tweed's landscapes operate within a visual lexicon based in the history of painting. This vocabulary has extended beyond the academic arena of painting and permeated our mainstream culture so much so that it is now part of an archetypal set of memories we carry with us. Rooted in romantic notions of the "natural world," it is through the soft focus of these memories that the essence of humankind's relationship to nature is articulated and why Tweed's work is so compelling.

For further information check our NC Commercial Gallery listings or call the gallery at 828/251-0202 or on the web at (http://www.bluespiral1.com).

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