Drawing upon art historical sources and Eastern and Western decorative traditions, Fred Tomaselli’s works explode in mesmerizing patterns that appear to grow organically across his compositions. In the introduction to a 2003 essay on Tomaselli’s work in Parkett magazine, curator James Rondeau writes: “Over the course of the last ten years, Fred Tomaselli has established an international reputation for his meticulously crafted, richly detailed, deliriously beautiful works of both abstract and figurative art. His signature pieces are compelling, hybrid objects: ersatz, or maybe surrogate paintings, or tapestries, or quilts or mosaics. Their various components—both over-the-counter and controlled pharmaceuticals, street drugs, natural psychotropic substances and other organic matter, collaged elements from printed sources, and hand-painted ornament—are all suspended in gleaming layers of clear, polished, hard resin. Forms implode, explode, oscillate, buzz, loop, swirl, and spiral. Actual objects, photographic representations, and painted surfaces co-exist without hierarchy on and in a single picture plane. The combined effect, neither determinably real nor fully illusionistic, is at once electrifying and destabilizing.”
Starting in 2005, Tomaselli has developed a new body of works on paper that transform the front page of The New York Times with gouache and collage. The surreal compositions are ruminations on the absurdity of news cycles and provide him a space to respond to a variety of issues – from regional anecdotes to global crises. As Tomaselli has stated, “I think that maybe the Times collages are quietly political, in that I can riff on anything I want, while the horrors of the world become the background buzz. Maybe I’m saying that the world may be going to hell, but I still keep painting.”
Fred Tomaselli (born 1956, Santa Monica, CA) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE (2019); Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, CA (2018); Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH (2016); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2014) and the University of Michigan Museum of Art (2014); a survey exhibition at Aspen Art Museum (2009) that toured to Tang Museum in Saratoga, NY and the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn NY (2010); The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2004) toured to four venues in Europe and the US; Albright-Knox Gallery of Art (2003); Site Santa Fe (2001); Palm Beach ICA (2001), and Whitney Museum of American Art (1999). His works have been included in international biennial exhibitions including Sydney (2010); Prospect 1 (2008); Site Santa Fe (2004); Whitney (2004) and others. Tomaselli’s work can be found in the public collections of institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Albright Knox Art Gallery; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA; and many others.