Ever the idiosyncratic collector, artist Fred Tomaselli amasses actual pills and plants along with a range of images — among them flowers, birds, and anatomical illustrations — carefully cut from books and magazines. Pulling from this visual archive, Tomaselli creates baroque paintings that combine unusual materials and paint under layers of clear epoxy resin. He collages these materials into multilayered combinations of the real, the photographic, and the painterly. Drawing upon a range of art historical sources from Renaissance frescoes to 1960s Minimalism, and eastern and western decorative traditions such as quilts and mosaics, Tomaselli’s paintings explode in mesmerizing patterns that appear to grow organically across his compositions. These handmade scenes reveal both troubling and enlightening details of our world.
This survey shows the trajectory of Tomaselli’s career, from early experiments with photography and collage to recent paintings and prints that combine abstraction with allusions to current events. Tomaselli’s work reveals a uniquely American vision. Growing up in southern California near the desert, Tomaselli was influenced by both the manufactured unreality of theme parks and the music and drug countercultures of Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s.
His distinctive melding of these influences forms an updated, personalized, folk-driven vision of the American West. Although deeply personal, his celebration of psychedelic and alternative visions raises provocative questions and possibilities for understanding our inner and outer lives.
Organized by the Tang Teaching Museum and Aspen Art Museum, Fred Tomaselli is a major survey that features over twenty paintings and two-dimensional works from the late 1980s to the present. A fully-illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring texts by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Linda Norden, and David Shields, as well as an extended conversation between the artist and Ian Berry.
Fred Tomaselli is currently on view at the Aspen Art Museum from August 1–October 11, 2009. After its run at the Tang, it will be on view at New York’s Brooklyn Museum from October 8, 2010–January 2, 2011.