Audio: Fred Tomaselli, Organism
Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956)
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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN FAMILY COLLECTION
Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956)

Organism

Details
Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956)
Organism
signed, titled and dated '"ORGAMISM" [sic] Fred Tomaselli 2005' (on the reverse)
leaves, photo-collage, acrylic, gouache and resin on panel
96 x 77in. (243.6 x 195.5cm.)
Executed in 2005
Provenance
Carlier/Gebauer, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005.
Literature
R. Smith, 'Tune In, Turn On, Dig Art', in The New York Times, 11 September 2005 (illustrated in colour).
D. Fox, 'If Everybody Had an Ocean', in Frieze, issue 109, September 2007.
S. Davies, 'Music to the eyes', in Royal Academy of Arts Magazine, London 2007, no. 95 (illustrated in colour, p. 24).
Fred Tomaselli, exh. cat., Aspen, Aspen Art Museum, 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 229).
Exhibited
Berlin, Galerie Carlier Gebauer, Fred Tomaselli, 2005.
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Ecstasy: in and about altered states, 2005-2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 130).
St. Ives, Tate St. Ives, If Everybody Had an Ocean: Brian Wilson, An Art Exhibition, 2007 (illustrated in colour, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Bordeaux, CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux.

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Alice de Roquemaurel

Lot Essay

"I do consider myself as a maximalist artist, in that I try to throw as much information into an object it can physically handle. I have a section of noses, eyes, plants (of which many grew in my backyard). I take these little bits often removing them from their original context, using only an infinitesimal amount to use it in my work. So I feel there is this sort of buzz of the collective world I live in. A lot of the ... the pills, the pot, the shape of psychadelia, may remind the viewer of when their mind was once scrambled. Works are kind of objects that transport you to other places. They kind of remind me of surfboards or other vehicles that transport you to places. Now I'm painting [Organism]. I'd like to create the idea that he is falling, somehow like in a cartoon. These little directional lines are coming out of his body. [Organism] is for a show that is going to be in the museum of contemporary art in Los Angeles and the show is entitled Ecstasy. The show has to do with both the emotional state of the ecstatic and also deal with the ramification of MDMA, a drug that is known as ecstasy. It's great to have this piece brought into this show and be seen by a lot of people since it is a work that is about collectivism and about crowds and about losing yourself in the crowd. It would be very interesting to see what the crowd does with this. I really would like ideally people to have a transcendental experience with [Organism]. So in that regard I think of these works as both a window into another world and a mirror to the world that we live in. Paintings are interesting receptacles of time. I spent six months making [Organism], then people walk to it and they see it all in an instant and then they move on." (F. Tomaselli, discussing the present work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VuAzThzH_E).


'I grew up so close to Disneyland that I could sit on my roof and watch Tinkerbell fly through the night sky. Artificial, immersive, theme park reality was such a normal part of my life that when I saw my first natural waterfall I couldn't believe it didn't involve plumbing or electricity' (F. Tomaselli, quoted in Fred Tomaselli: Monsters of Paradise, exh. cat., The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 2004, p. 43).


'My ultimate aim is to seduce and transport the viewer into space of these pictures while simultaneously revealing the mechanics of that seduction' (F. Tomaselli, quoted in Fred Tomaselli: Monsters of Paradise, exh. cat., The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2004, p. 43).

A kaleidoscopic vision of Fred Tomaselli\as imagining, Organism depicts a man suspended in both time and space, his limbs contorted like Icarus tumbling from the heavens. A monumental canvas extending almost two and a half metres in height, Organism is a near baroque celebration of colour and form; the three dimensional mosaic-like surface incorporating hundreds of organic leaves and photo collaged elements embalmed between the varying layers of clear, glossy resin. The jewel-like appliques appear as an elaborate brocade formed from delicately cropped hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, and vibrant tropical fruits. Conflating with the landscape, the figure\as flayed skin reveals a flourishing body alive with activity: orchids blooming from the brightly painted veins, butterflies emerging from his muscles, eyes winking from his toes. One of the largest figurative examples of Tomaselli's work, Organism has been exhibited extensively internationally, including at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Tate St. Ives, CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux.

The intoxicating psychedelic of Tomaselli\as work comes from the artis\as reverential attention to detail; each small section of Organism is attended to with the artist\as unwavering care. Tomaselli\as elaborate working process involves the careful and laborious assemblage of tiny photographs cropped from magazines, and real pressed leaves embellished with paint, which he first lays out on the studio floor before casting them between numerous layers of resin. Organism embodies the artist's signature style, with meticulously cropped magazine images of flowers, lips, eyes, and birds, butterflies, insects, and mushrooms embalmed in smooth epoxy resin. The lustrous resin imparts an alluring quality to the surface, inviting the viewer to investigate the multidimensionality of the floating layers. As the artist describes: 'my ultimate aim is to seduce and transport the viewer into space of these pictures while simultaneously revealing the mechanics of that seduction' (F. Tomaselli, quoted in Fred Tomaselli: Monsters of Paradise, exh. cat., The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2004, p. 43). Tomaselli\as distinctive style derives from the milieu of 1970s southern California, his favoured epoxy resin a remnant of having grown up in the 'surfing capital of America'. The lights of Disneyland shining into his childhood bedroom window, the artist would imaginatively recall 'I grew up so close to Disneyland that I could sit on my roof and watch Tinkerbell fly through the night sky. Artificial, immersive, theme park reality was such a normal part of my life that when I saw my first natural waterfall I couldn't believe it didn't involve plumbing or electricity' (F. Tomaselli, quoted in ibid, p. 43). This anecdote informs so much of Tomaselli's super flat, psychedelic aesthetic, charged with its mystic hyper-reality where nature collide with art.

In its proliferation of images, Organism reveals a rich visual imagery and employs traditional art historical metaphors to draw together the diverse worlds of art, nature, and theology. Offering revised archetypes of paradise,Organism shares a dialogue with Tomaselli's best known work The Expulsion: an envisioning of Masaccio's fifteenth century fresco masterpiece, The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Emanating from the central locus where the figure's head would be, a plethora of life explodes as if an explosion of knowledge. Radiating from a mythic radial point beyond, rays of countless organisms punctuate the vast inky black background; a metaphor for god-like emanations often found in Western medieval and Renaissance art. These filigreed striations of flora and fauna impart a taxonomic order across a vast achromatic sky. Set above a whirling, crystalline landscape stacked like latticed honeycomb, the foreground has the cellular quality of a colourful microcosm. Among the various components forming these cellular mandalas, tiny hands tightly formed in mudras configurations conjure a spectrum of Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. A collision of visual and verbal language, these hands offer a multiplicity of meanings, both ominous and auspicious.

Fossilised in the variegated layers of resin, the verdant world that inhabits Organism serves as an analogy for the primal, unconscious mind. As the artist has suggested: 'I always start with the shape of nature but nature is riven with infection, pathology, pain and pollution. We live in a mutating landscape of rapidly hybridizing bits on the level of DNA and binary code, in the cross-pollination of global instant-access culture, of Eastern and Western pictorial traditions, and vernacular and high art references. We see the world through a scrim of ideologies and technologies and the crackling static of chemicals and electronic media. Purity is a myth. Generalized hybridity has produced an even more generalized reality slippage. My work aspires to be a window on this condition' (F. Tomaselli, quoted in ibid, p. 43). In the immaculate rendering of Organism, nature and artifice seamlessly unite in the figure plunging into the abyss, suggesting both the agony and the ecstasy of beauty and nature.

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