“Divas & Heroes”
oil and collage paintings
May 21 – June 8, 2013
Reception: Thurs. May 23, 5-8 pm
Coffee/Conversation with the artist: Saturday, June 1, 3-4 pm
Chelsea, NYC: Viridian Artists is pleased to present recent oil and collage paintings by Bob Tomlinson on the ironic theme “Divas & Heroes”. The exhibit opens May 21st with a reception on Thursday May 23rd, 5-8pm PM. The work will be on view through Saturday June 8th. The artist will be at the gallery on Saturday, June 1st, for coffee and conversation from 3-4 PM.
The dictionary defines diva as “a great woman singer, a prima donna.” These are present in the person of Josephine Baker etc but the word is also taken in the broader sense of a flamboyant heroine, here historical or literary. The same holds true for the heroes. Whether heroes and heroines are possible in the modern world is open to question. The paintings are of modest format; the focus is on single or three-quarter figures. Having said that, the usual suspects are present, Genghi, Marie Antoinette (at least in painted versions) as well as James Baldwin, Lena Horne, Chet Baker etc.
The paintings are combinations of areas painted in oil, elaborately textured and printed papers, as well as computer manipulated photographs. These papers are collaged on canvas and represent elements of costume or abstracted background areas. The painter believes that the frontier between figuration and abstraction is an illusion. There is no monolithic distinction between the two modes. Whether naturalistically depicted or abstracted in various degrees, the “object” perceived in a painting (a figure or a bowl of fruit) is in fact only a combination of visual cues. Such objects are not “natural signs” (to use the terminology of semiotics) but “arbitrary” ones, that is to say only constituted at a second degree by true natural signs: colors, lines and shapes.
Art critic Lawrence Downes wrote: “Tomlinson employs classical anatomy as a vehicle for gestural abstraction.” Focusing on form and rhythm as formal autonomous entities, the artist sets his figures hovering in baroque atmospheres awash with subtle color harmonies.
Tomlinson’s themes are substantial and implore us to search our memories and connections to myth as well as to reality, but they are executed with an elegant surface treatment that often belies the anguish & emotions that lie deep in the layers of the work.
Bob Tomlinson is a Jamaican-American painter born in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Pratt Institute and the City University Graduate Center, he is also a scholar of French Literature and Aesthetics. Tomlinson has shown widely in Paris, London, Amsterdam and New York and is represented in many international public and private collections including those of the Clark-Atlanta University Museum, Dr. Maya Angelou, Lord and Lady Hirshfield, M. Franco Trecanni di Montichiari, M. Pierre Cochet and Herr Waldo Klick. He figures in the recent books, 100 New York Painters by Cynthia M. Dantzic (Schiffer, 2006), Black Paris Profiles by Monique E. Wells (2012) and is also the subject of a projected film by the well-known documentary filmmaker Louis Massiah.