about the exhibition
New Works 09.1
March 19–May 17, 2009about the artist
Brooklyn-based artist Christian Tomaszewski creates installations that combine interests in architectural and cinematic space. These complex interventions are often constructed of cardboard walls, false or revolving doors, mirrors, and other materials or devices used to simulate real space in film; the artist transforms them from imaginary, incomplete entities, experienced only by the eye, into whole realms of space experienced by the body as well. In a recent project, Hunting for Pheasants, currently on view at Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MA, Tomaszewski created a series of fictional film posters based on famous assassinations and installed them within a space negotiated by threading through a knee-high maze. The result is an atmosphere of disorientation, challenge, and speculation on what is real and what is fabricated.
Tomaszewski received his MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts, Poznan, Poland, in 1995. He has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Michael Wiesehöfer, Cologne, Germany (2008); Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY (2007); Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg, Germany (2007); and Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany (2007). His work has been included in many group exhibitions, including Of Other Spaces, Bureau for Open Culture, Columbus, OH (2009); Fear Minus One, University Art Gallery, San Diego, CA (2008); Manipulations-On Economies of Deceit, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2007); International Biennale of Contemporary Art, National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic (2005); and The Palimpsest Museum, First Biennale of Polish Art, Lodz, Poland (2004).
about the exhibition
For his project at Artpace, Tomaszewski has created WHEN LOVE TURNS WITH A LITTLE INDULGENCE TO INDIFFERENCE OR DISGUST (WHEN), an installation that incorporates several bodies of work. The gallery is divided into three linear corridors, cordoned off by whitewashed walls constructed of cardboard. Each space contains a distinct setting-with elements rendered in neon, film, metal, or print-which viewers see in sequence as they are guided through a miniature labyrinth. Meant to be experienced in relative solitude (only a limited number of people are allowed in at a time), the multipart environment contains a series of abstracted or fragmented works that thematically address the influence of architecture, the psychology of fantasy, and the development of narrative.
The artist's careful manipulation of the exhibition space recalls earlier works in which Tomaszewski re-created partial film sets. Though his Artpace project does not reference a particular movie, the physical elements of the installation establish an abstract narrative informed by the fundamental principles of cinematic set design, lighting, and sound. The incorporation of a multicolor baseboard running throughout the space acts as a connecting element, tying the rooms together through the use of a visual cue.
The first corridor is lit by a linear neon work that reads: DID NOT EXPRESS IT IN KISSING OR TOUCHING OR EVEN HUGGING. The intensity of the light is enhanced by the austere white cardboard walls, creating an environment that evokes a sense of isolation, reinforcing the message. While the sentence fragment establishes the emotional tone of the work, its subordinate position (just below knee level) lends it a sense of detachment. The pinup calendar hanging on the facing wall features images of French actress Catherine Deneuve. By incorporating an object associated with sexual desire, Tomaszewski endows the space with conflicting senses of indifference and wanting, fantasy and control.
The gallery of prints, sculpture, and colored lights in the east wing of the installation is equally enigmatic. Here, the linear arrangement of the frames can be compared to a chain of images in a moving picture. Though the compositions are not sequentially linked, recurring aesthetic elements are present throughout in the use of circles as well as primary colors. The presentation of these prints establishes a visual language that transcends chronological order―it is as if these images are fragments from a bizarre dream.
The use of fragmentation is carried on in the west wing of the construction, which contains a two-part filmic work and accompanying sound piece. The black and white collage features clips of movie footage, with characters and locations fading in and out of recognition. Its counterpart is a kaleidoscopic color field that changes in conjunction with the variations in black and white. An accompanying soundtrack comprises a compilation of poetic metaphors and melodic gestures culled from the artist's extensive archive. Here again, the environment is charged with emotion, yet lacks context, challenging our sense of reality and trapping the viewer in a disorienting realm where personal narrative serves as the binding element.