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Red Tweny

Born in 1964, Red Tweny is no stranger to high expectations and personal tragedy. As the first of two children, his childhood was restricted by an overprotective mother who perhaps imprinted the sense of insecurity and estrangement from reality which has so often factored into both his life and his work. His artistic talent was revealed at an early age. In an attempt to foster Red’s abilities, his mother made it a point to religiously attend all of the contemporary art exhibitions that passed through Rome during the mid-1970’s. By age 12 he was also studying under the tutelage of an illustrator at the local college he would later graduate from. At age 20, personal tragedy struck with the untimely passing of his father, who Red, himself, found lifeless. This event deeply marked his psyche and has impacted the style and subjects of his artwork ever since. He graduated in 1984 from the Mary Mount College in Rome. The institution’s pedagogic method, characterized by a humanistic philosophy on religion, gave a prominent role to the spiritual nourishment of his creativity. Since then he’s been actively attending exhibitions all around Rome in the search for new subjects. In 1985, his artistic talent landed him a job in the advertising department of Eni, an Italian energy company, where he remained throughout the 90s. This position allowed him the opportunity to collaborate with several large international agencies, which influenced his own work; combining elements of classical, surreal painting with graphical design. He primarily made the use of watercolours throughout this period but switched to black ink in 2000, which made his work instantly recognizable. Tweny’s work is now characterised by an exaggerated use of black ink and his subject matter leaves vivid impressions with his audiences. He does not make use of subtext, but rather overtly throws the essence of his work in the forefront for all to see. This work centers around the lovely futility of attempting to find meaning in a tangled existence. He frequently depicts subjects experiencing extreme emotions, which he likens to capturing the expressions of someone going through un-anesthetized surgery. The use of only black and white is used to heighten the feeling of violence, coldness, and desolation in the human condition. Tweny, rather than focusing on peoples’ “higher needs”, focuses on the fundamental internal existential crisis he observes in all humanity. His use of blacks and white negative space give the illusion of his subjects being frozen in space and time. This serves to accentuate the emotional message therein. A body’s tension as it convulses and ultimately crumbles becomes the epicenter of the image; there is nowhere for the viewer to look but straight into the abyss he has depicted.