Gallery Talk with Fred Tomaselli

On November 11th, we had the pleasure of meeting artist Fred Tomaselli at his latest show at the James Cohan Gallery in NYC, and he was able to give us an in depth look and review of his pieces and work. Although his works rely heavily on his incredibly intricate process and complex imagery, he surprisingly does not plan his compositions, and believes his works are best when he “works with the world’s madness”. Tomaselli is able to translate a world of messages and events into very carefully articulated works centered around placement, layering, and conscious word and color choices.

Tomaselli’s pieces comment on world happenings and media, and sometimes even directly on real mass produced media, such as newspapers. In my own work, I’m also very interested in responding to mass media, and who controls disseminated information. In reference to his works on newspapers, Fred said that over abundant language is “non-sensical”, and that mass media producers are ultimately the ones who decide what information is put out into the world, and what the people take in, and they tell you what they think is important. I have always considered what information is left out and what it means to be a journalist, but when he framed newspapers in that way, it made me realize how incredibly subjective the news world is, even if you are displaying a plethora of information at a wide range in an unbiased fashion (which is rare, I might add).

From this line of logic, Tomaselli’s works are his own commentary on world happenings, attitudes, and information, and his pieces are efforts to create rhyme and reason out of madness. Fred commented, “we are less sure of reality more now than ever”, and he believes there is an obsession over reality perspective and a general overindulgence of social media. Even thought Fred’s work relies very heavily upon mass media and the constant turnover of information and ideas, he refuses to contribute to the virtual world because he believes it’s a vacuum and is destroying the world. In this way, he is able to translate virtual information back into a physical, visual form. Tomaselli’s works allow viewers to reconnect with the physical aspect of mass media, and presents the information in a way that encourages the viewer to be present in the moment and to digest media one section at a time.