Indepth Arts News: |
"Fred Tomaselli: Monsters of Paradise"
2004-07-31 until 2004-10-03
UK United Kingdom
The Fruitmarket Galleryís 2004 Edinburgh Art Festival Exhibition is the first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, of New York-based artist Fred Tomaselli, whose meticulous hybrid pictures - made using a dazzling array of materials including paint, pills, insects, photo-collage, leaves and flowers Ė have gained him a reputation as one of the international art worldís most rapidly rising stars. Born in Santa Monica, California, in 1956, Tomaselli grew up so close to Disneyland that he could 'sit on (his) roof and watch Tinkerbell fly through the night sky'. Fascinated by artifice, he plunged into the post-punk counter-culture of late 1970s Los Angeles, before moving to New York to make art that explores ideas of utopia and dystopia, using objects both real and reproduced. His pictures, exquisite and often disturbing explosions of colour embedded in layers of resin, are a feast for the eye and the imagination.
The collaged paintings that marked Tomaselliís emergence on the international art circuit in the late 80s are obsessive compendia of the natural and unnatural worlds that move between abstraction and figuration. They are distinguished by the use of unorthodox materials such as over-the-counter remedies, medicinal herbs, prescription pills and psychoactive plants. Real pills sit alongside painted pills while cut-out photographs of flowers, insects and leaves from field guides and seed catalogues jostle for attention with their carefully-pressed and preserved real-life counterparts.
Most of the 34 works featured in the exhibition have been made since 2002 and elevate figuration in Tomaselliís work, extending his range of everyday ingredients within an exacting visual cartography: whole figures crafted from magazine cut-outs of animals and body parts - nightmarish, Archimboldo-esque hybrids Ė moving through the artistís intensely personal vision of the universe.
His practice has important links to an artistic alumni that emerged in the second half of the last century to employ radical techniques in painting, from Jackson Pollockís poured enamel and Jasper Johnsís hybrid approach to Roy Lichtensteinís mimicry of mechanical reproduction, Gerhard Richterís blurred views and even Julian Schnabelís combination of broken dishes and paint. Tomaselliís innovation extends beyond technique to his subject matter to interrogate local and global issues of our age.
Tomaselli desires transcendence and transportation in work that, while equating the mind-altering properties of the substances embedded in his works with the long-standing idea of painting as a window on to another reality, diverts their point of entry into the body so that they attack the brain via the eye rather than the bloodstream; their mere presence heightening the sense of transition, promise or escape that comes with the territory of illicit and prescribed drugs.
A BA graduate in Painting and Drawing of California State University, Fred Tomaselli lives and works in Brooklyn. Solo exhibitions include Albright-Knox Gallery of Art, Buffalo, New York 2003, Fred Tomaselli Ė Ten Year Survey, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art 2001-2002, and Gravityís Rainbow, Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, 1999, and Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2001.
His work has featured in group exhibitions worldwide including the 2004 Whitney Biennial; Painting Pictures, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany, 2003; the 2002 Liverpool Biennial and 2001 Berlin Biennial. He has work in the collections of major American museums including The Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and many important private collections.