The exhibition presents a selection of works that span the past 10 years of the artist’s career, including his elaborately layered paintings and New York Times collages.
Fred Tomaselli is known for his visually packed paintings that are hybrid in materials, subjects, and cultural references. A single piece may consist of brightly colored passages of paint, photo-collage, found images from field guides and magazines, and drugs such as aspirin, marijuana leaves, and ecstasy pills. These materials are layered onto wood panels and suspended in thick layers of slick epoxy resin. Tomaselli’s stylized works range from psychedelic abstractions to idealized representations of allegorical figures, animals, nature, and the cosmos. In the fifteen-foot-wide painting Flipper, 2008, included in the exhibition, a web of abstract, rhythmic lines, each comprised of a variety of collaged elements, reverberate on a dark field. The complex pattern of energy resembles sound waves and was inspired by the music and history of New Orleans.
Tomaselli’s mesmerizing scenes bend reality, illustrating the utopian and transcendental capabilities of art. His works also comment on the artifice of suburban America in the 1960s and 1970s and the subcultural quest for escapism—whether it be reached through hallucinatory experiences or trips to amusement parks such as Disneyland—realities that are particularly tied to the artist’s upbringing in California during those decades. Of his work, Tomaselli says, “It is my ultimate aim to seduce and transport the viewer into the space of these pictures while simultaneously revealing the mechanics of that seduction.”
Also featured in this exhibition is a selection of Tomaselli’s New York Times collages, an ongoing series the artist began in 2005 in which he scans the front pages of the newspaper, prints them onto watercolor paper, and alters the central images. These works reflect the passing of time, while also emphasizing how the information presented to readers is highly subjective and often banal. Tomaselli states on the series, “I’m a news junkie . . . I love watching the history of the world unfold on a daily basis. I repurpose these cultural bits, which have been authored by others, into new artifacts. . . . Like the news itself, [these collages] present a ‘now’ as it immediately slips into the past.”
Fred Tomaselli was born in Santa Monica, California, and received his BA from California State University in Fullerton. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Tomaselli has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum; Aspen Art Museum; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Indianapolis Museum of Art; SITE Santa Fe; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Tomaselli was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 1998 and New York’s Public Design Commission Annual Award for Excellence in Design in 1992. His work is in the collections of many museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Art Institute of Chicago; and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.