Creative visionary and commercially successful artist Fred Tomaselli has enjoyed a long, unique career characterized by forays into the realm of the abstract and by the consistent undertaking of ambitious projects, many of which are notable in scope and profound in complexity. Though often drawing upon artistic influences ranging from the very old to the relatively contemporary, Fred Tomaselli isolates his work from the terrain of straightforward comparison by way of his intensive attention to detail and precision craftsmanship. A certain dynamism exists within Tomaselli’s every work, a visual challenge which serves as a sort of professional signature, as its execution speaks of profound skill, talent, and devotion to the producing of transcendent images.
Born in 1956 Santa Monica, California, Fred Tomaselli is very much an American artist and painter. His formal education would be undertaken at California State University, Fullerton during the late-1970s, and indeed his creative energies were already apparent at this early stage of his career. However, it was in moving to the nation’s opposite coast, after earning his bachelor’s degree in 1982, that Tomaselli’s creative identity would begin to assume a defined shape.
There is something to be said for one’s understanding of the world having been influenced by spending one’s adolescence in southern California and one’s early-adult years in New York, namely that an element of free-spiritedness and a capacity for the abstract are rather likely to manifest within those of artistic disposition. And, of course, it is not merely of where Tomaselli’s life was most significantly and lastingly influenced, but also of when these influences were visited upon the young painter.
To be sure, the 1960s and 1970s saw more than their share of socio cultural tumult, geopolitical strife, and a sense of critical self-awareness which would more or less alter America’s national conversation for the remainder of the 20th century. Coming of age during those decades, Tomaselli did, would certainly leave an impression upon all but the least cognizant of souls. For a sensitive, creative type, the impression was certain to be characterized by greater depth and mental residue. However, it became the case that those trying times and goings-on of early/mid-1980s New York would have far more say in the calibrating of Fred Tomaselli’s inventive mechanisms than would the preceding two decades of his California youth. Rampant narcotics usage, social upheaval, a countercultural movement which stood as a fixture of anti-Reagan sentiment—these overlapping factors became the proverbial paints upon Tomaselli’s mental palette and have provided him with various cultural props and iconic images with which to enrich and render challenging his long catalog of productions.
Fred Tomaselli Artwork
Art is, by its very nature, a metaphorical medium. Even in the case of the most seemingly simplistic of works, what exists on the canvas, or within the clay, or upon the ceiling is a representation of reality as perceived by its creator. A simple portrait might contain clues as to the painter’s innermost thoughts regarding the subject, or it might emphasize traits deemed otherwise negligible to the untrained eye. In the case of Fred Tomaselli’s paintings, much of what he communicates is intentionally elusive, which compounds the metaphors therein. Furthermore, many of Tomaselli’s works are celebrated as much for how they say what say as for what is they, well, say.
Often composing his paintings on wood panels, Tomaselli employs a multi-faceted, workmanlike approach to the generating of his intricate and often highly abstract images. The application of varnish in varying shades yields finishes ranging from the stunning to the peculiar. Of course, for Tomaselli the message is intended to transcend the medium as much as is possible, with the primary aim being one of creating a sense of hallucinatory illusion within the minds of those who engage closely with his work.
For instance, a work titled Night Music for Raptors is poorly served by written or spoken description, as the image consists of an owl staring intently back at the viewer. No apparent motion or activity is conveyed within the image, nor is the avian specimen present within a breathtaking or otherwise remarkable landscape. Instead, the image is rendered in such a way as to overwhelm the viewer’s visual acuity, the result being a sort of waking dreaminess brought upon by the painting’s surreal properties.
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