“People think that I am a comedian, but art comes first”
Jim Moir, Mr Porter, 2021
Born in Leeds in 1959, Jim Moir first came to prominence as a comedian, actor, and musician with the stage alias, ‘Vic Reeves’. His television sketches with long-term writing partner Bob Mortimer have solidified his status as a national treasure; however, long before the character of Vic Reeves brought success, Moir was a practicing artist.
After completing an engineering apprenticeship he studied Fine Art Foundation at Sir John Cass College in 1983, which led to a curator position at The Gardner Gallery and his first exhibition in 1985. Moir had applied for Goldsmiths but was rejected on the basis that he was already ‘too accomplished’: “I wanted to go to Goldsmiths but they wouldn’t let me in so I just walked in and started using the facilities and went to the lectures. I did that for three years.”
The influence of Pop Art giants from the 1960s such as Gilbert and George, Andy Warhol, and Peter Blake is evident within his paintings, both thematically and stylistically. Often dreamlike and peppered with satirical humour, Moir’s fantastical compositions have also been compared to the Surrealist and Dadaist movements of the late 1910s and early 1920s.
“Vic Reeves is a real good clue into who you are; Vic Reeves is just another piece of artwork”
Tony Pitts in conversation with Jim Moir, Three Little Words
Moir’s unwavering passion for image-making and sculpture has been integral to his career; through set design and props on shows including Vic Reeves Big Night Out, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and Shooting Stars, his artwork has remained ever-present on television screens as the backdrop to his comedic vision. Since presenting Turner Prize Moments in 2011 he has tipped the balance of focus from performance towards visual art.
Moir: “When I started doing comedy it was kind of a side-line to my artwork. I’ve never not painted. Now I’ve got to a stage where I thought, I’ve done the comedy. I’ve done the TV. I’ll just do bits on TV and film if I want to do it. But all day long I’m going to paint pictures. That’s what I like doing.”
His debut exhibition with RedHouse will be the artist’s first within his native county of Yorkshire, aptly titled ‘Yorkshire Rocks & Dinghy Fights’. The display presents Moir’s distinct talent for capturing the bizarre through a multitude of mediums. Over 50 unseen paintings will feature in the show, with highlights including a new collection of oil painted neo-impressionist landscapes depicting heritage site Brimham Rocks and watercolours of noir-themed altercations on water.
Moir has held exhibitions in Manchester, London, Jersey and Newcastle. Most recently, the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery hosted ‘Romans, Daisies, Ones and Twos’ where his famous watercolour shoes Bowie’s Boots, Marilyn’s Stilettos and Paul Weller’s Loafers seamlessly complemented one of the world’s largest museum collections of footwear.
Moir’s visual language is a plethora of the imagined as well as the experienced – recognisable within the apparent absurdities are an abundance of cultural references; depictions of rock’n’roll icons, beloved cartoon characters, religious iconography and historic moments, fictitiously portrayed to exaggerate and parody.
The artist lives and works in the south east of England.
Watch: The Times & Sunday Times - At Home With Jim & Nancy
See inside the home of comedian Jim Moir, aka Vic Reeves, and model Nancy Sorrell as they reflect on their careers in the spotlight
Listen: Three Little Words with Tony Pitts & John Bishop
John Bishop and Tony Pitts ask Vic Reeves to choose three words that mean something to him
Read: The Guardian - Leaving Vic Reeves behind to paint rocks all day
The Guardian speak to Jim Moir about edging away from the spotlight as a comedian