Genius Loci: the Dark Vistas of Randall Tiedman

Randall Tiedman was born in an up/down duplex, one of many similar three-story dwellings crowding a long block in Cleveland’s North Collinwood area. Purchased by his grandparents just after the turn of the century, the house faces west across a few feet of front lawn, close to the street. Tiedman produced hundreds of paintings, prints, and drawings in a back bedroom there for decades. He died late in 2012 in that same house where he had lived for more than sixty years.

Mystic Trumpeter, by Randall Tiedman

The views along Grovewood Avenue aren’t romantic or epic. Epochal events – Deluges, Apocalypses, which many of Tiedman’s last paintings evoke, would be more suitable in sexier terrain. Yet Tiedman was able to discover a profound poetry hidden in this ordinary world. Using long views of nearby railroad yards and the titantic architecture of industrial plants, with hints of the depths and timelessness of Lake Erie, the painter invented somber views of a transcendent realm, sparkling with bravura passages, black horizons and storm-crowded skies.

Randall Tiedman’s life was a tale of struggle and triumph, as he broke past previous limits to produce a startling series of sublime landscapes. Prior to his death, national publications like New American Painting and museums of international prominence such as the Albright-Knox and the Butler Museum of American Art had just begun to recognize and champion his unique vision.

The retrospective exhibit Genius Loci, curated by William Scheele and Douglas Max Utter, traces the arc of a lifetime of visionary achievement. Beginning with surrealist-influenced landscape and figural works produced during his teen years and early twenties, the show explores highlights of the expressive techniques and subjects that comprised Tiedman’s output. His fascination with the loneliness and strange independence of the self–combined with the sensuous presence of flesh–found inspiration in the work of British painters like Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, and Francis Bacon. His lifelong interest in landscape reflected a passion for painterly styles ranging from the sparkling naturalism of Constable and swirling, color-saturated dramas of Turner, to the frottage and other experimental techniques of Max Ernst.

Like any great artist’s work, these paintings and drawings are a kind of portrait of a time and place, a picture of part of the hidden soul of things and events that surrounded him. “Genius Loci” means the spirit of a place, its essence. Tiedman became a “Genius” in that sense especially, through a lifetime of effort and observation.


Kokoon Arts Gallery is the Exclusive Representative of the Tiedman Artwork Estate


Randall Tiedman retrospective: Genius Loci

October 18 – January 4, 2014


Kokoon Arts Gallery

1305 West 80th Street

Cleveland, Ohio 44102