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Exploring Perception and Celebrating Life: The Art of Fred Tomaselli

The Artistic Journey of Fred Tomaselli: Exploring Life, Perception, and Celebrating the Beat GenerationArt has always been a powerful medium for expression, often transcending boundaries and challenging societal norms. One artist who has made a significant impact on the art world is Fred Tomaselli.

With his unique blend of Los Angeles psychedelia, Beat generation influence, and minimalist art aesthetic, Tomaselli’s work is a celebration of life, both natural and artificial. From his complex compositions to explosive shapes, his art invites viewers to delve into a world filled with vivid colors and thought-provoking themes.

In this article, we will explore the various facets of Tomaselli’s work, from his connection to the New York art scene to his fascination with drugs, perception, and parallel realities.

The Influence of Los Angeles and the Beat Generation

The Los Angeles Connection

Fred Tomaselli’s artistic journey began in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. The city’s vibrant and diverse art scene played an instrumental role in shaping his artistic sensibilities.

Influenced by the unconventional Beat generation, Tomaselli’s work reflects a rejection of conventional lifestyle norms. His art is a visual representation of the counterculture movement that swept through Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s, fostering an environment of artistic experimentation and rebellion.

Artificial and Natural Themes in Tomaselli’s Work

One of the defining features of Tomaselli’s art is his ability to seamlessly integrate artificial and natural elements into his pieces. His complex compositions are a meticulous combination of various mediums, including collage, painting, and drawing.

The explosive shapes and vibrant colors he incorporates into his work give it an otherworldly feel, reminiscent of firework displays or the surreal landscapes of Disneyworld.

New York Art Scene and the Exploration of Perception

The Influence of New York

After spending his formative years in Los Angeles, Tomaselli made the move to New York, where he immersed himself in the city’s bustling art scene. New York’s minimalism movement profoundly influenced his artistic style, leading to a shift towards cleaner lines and simpler forms in his work.

However, despite embracing minimalist aesthetics, Tomaselli’s art retains a sense of vibrancy and dynamism that sets it apart from traditional minimalist art. Drugs and Perception in Tomaselli’s Work

Another significant aspect of Tomaselli’s work is his exploration of the relationship between drugs and perception.

Influenced by the psychedelics prevalent in the Los Angeles and New York scenes, Tomaselli’s art often possesses hallucinatory properties. His use of intricate patterns, vibrant colors, and intricate details transports viewers to parallel realities, blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined.


Fred Tomaselli’s art is a testament to the power of creativity and the magic it can bring into our lives. From his roots in the Los Angeles art scene to his immersion in the New York art world, Tomaselli has emerged as a visionary artist who challenges conventions and explores the depths of perception.

His work reminds us of the importance of celebrating life in all its forms, whether natural or artificial. Through his intricate compositions and vibrant colors, Tomaselli invites us on a journey of self-discovery and exploration.

The legacy of Fred Tomaselli’s art will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for generations to come.

From Transition to Installation Art to a Return to Painting

Transition to Installation Art

Throughout his career, Fred Tomaselli has delved into various artistic mediums, exploring new avenues for self-expression. One significant transition in his artistic journey was the move towards installation art.

Tomaselli’s performative installations are immersive experiences that engage viewers on multiple levels. Often using low-cost materials, he creates environments that challenge traditional notions of art and viewer participation.

One notable example of Tomaselli’s foray into installation art is his series of works known as “Current Theory.” These installations incorporate found objects, such as foam, bottles, and discarded materials, combined with his signature collage technique. Through these installations, Tomaselli explores themes of consumerism, waste, and the intersection of art and everyday life.

A Return to Painting

While Tomaselli’s exploration of installation art was a significant period in his artistic journey, he eventually returned to his roots in painting. However, true to his nature, Tomaselli’s approach to painting is anything but conventional.

He employs unconventional methods, using objects such as leaves, pills, and insects in combination with layers of resin to create striking and intricate compositions. One notable series exemplifying Tomaselli’s unconventional painting methods is his “Diary” artwork.

These pieces combine fragments from his personal life, including photographs, receipts, and other ephemera, with vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Through this juxtaposition of the mundane and the universal, Tomaselli invites viewers to reflect on their own experiences and the interconnectedness of humanity.

Novel Materials and Religious Iconography

Novel Materials in Tomaselli’s Work

One of the hallmarks of Tomaselli’s art is his innovative use of materials. From leaves and insects to pills and resin, he seamlessly incorporates these unconventional materials into his work.

This experimentation with materials allows Tomaselli to create visually compelling and conceptually rich artworks that challenge traditional artistic boundaries. The connection between Tomaselli’s use of materials and his fascination with psychedelics is evident.

By incorporating natural elements such as leaves and insects, which can be associated with hallucinatory experiences, Tomaselli blurs the line between reality and altered states of perception. The use of pharmaceutical pills further reinforces this connection, symbolizing both the potential for healing and the dangers of synthetic substances.

Religious Iconography in Tomaselli’s Art

Religious iconography and symbolism are prevalent in some of Tomaselli’s artworks, despite his self-proclaimed atheism. In his series “Untitled” and “Expulsion,” Tomaselli interweaves religious imagery with his signature style to create thought-provoking compositions.

These works combine elements of higher powers, such as celestial bodies and spiritual motifs, with seemingly small and mundane minutiae, such as insects and household objects. This juxtaposition challenges traditional religious narratives and invites viewers to explore their own beliefs and ideas about spirituality.

By combining religious iconography with his psychedelic-infused style, Tomaselli presents a unique perspective on the relationship between the divine and the everyday. His art urges viewers to question established religious norms and consider the interconnectedness of all things, both big and small.


Fred Tomaselli’s artistic journey is a testament to the ever-evolving nature of creativity. From his transition to installation art to a return to painting, Tomaselli has consistently pushed the boundaries of artistic expression.

His innovative use of materials, such as leaves, insects, and pills, reflects his fascination with psychedelics and altered states of perception. Additionally, his incorporation of religious iconography challenges traditional religious narratives and invites viewers to contemplate their own beliefs.

Through his work, Tomaselli continues to captivate audiences with his vibrant colors, intricate compositions, and thought-provoking themes. He reminds us of the power of art to shift our perspectives, challenge societal norms, and celebrate life in all its forms.

Fred Tomaselli’s art is an invitation to explore the boundaries of perception, spirituality, and the interconnectedness of the world around us.

Human Figures and Surreal Juxtapositions

of Human Figures in Tomaselli’s Works

Fred Tomaselli’s artistic exploration extends beyond the realms of nature and abstraction. In some of his works, he introduces human figures, creating a fascinating blend of the human and the natural.

One notable example is his artwork “Expecting to Fly,” where Tomaselli combines a portrait of a woman’s face with intricate patterns and natural elements. By incorporating human figures into his compositions, Tomaselli adds a new layer of complexity to his art, inviting viewers to explore the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Tomaselli’s use of resin further enhances the surreal nature of these works. The glossy finish of the resin creates an ethereal quality, blurring the boundaries between reality and imagination.

Through this blending of human and natural elements, Tomaselli challenges traditional notions of representation and identity, urging viewers to question their perceptions of self and the world around them.

Surreal Juxtapositions and Trippy Landscapes

In addition to the introduction of human figures, Tomaselli’s works often feature surreal juxtapositions and trippy landscapes reminiscent of the style of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a renowned Italian artist known for his imaginative portraits composed of fruits, vegetables, and other objects. Tomaselli’s compositions play with the viewer’s expectations, merging unexpected elements and creating dreamlike scenes.

These surreal juxtapositions in Tomaselli’s art invite viewers to question the boundaries between the real and the fantastic. By combining elements that should not naturally coexist, he challenges our perception of reality and prompts us to reconsider the possibilities of imagination.

These trippy landscapes serve as portals to alternative worlds, encouraging viewers to embrace their own creativity and expand their understanding of what is possible.

Patterns and Surrealism

Importance of Patterns in Tomaselli’s Works

Patterns hold a significant place in the artistic vocabulary of Fred Tomaselli. His intricate and vibrant patterns are not merely decorative; they serve as key elements that provoke questions about perception and the interconnectedness of the world.

Just as indigenous art often employs patterns to convey meaning beyond the surface level, Tomaselli utilizes patterns as a vehicle to explore deeper themes and ideas. Tomaselli’s patterns provoke contemplation on the nature of perception.

The repetition and manipulation of patterns challenge viewers to question their own interpretations and biases. Through his use of intricate patterns, Tomaselli encourages viewers to examine the ways in which they construct meaning and understand the world around them.

In this sense, his works resonate with the traditions of indigenous art across cultures, where patterns hold symbolic and spiritual significance.

Influence of Surrealism and Encoded Patterns

Surrealism, an artistic movement that sought to unleash the powers of the unconscious mind, has had a profound influence on Tomaselli’s artistic approach. In works like “Summer Swell,” Tomaselli depicts a woman dreaming amid vibrant patterns and surreal elements.

Through this dreamlike composition, he taps into the realm of the subconscious and blurs the boundaries between imagination and reality. Patterns in Tomaselli’s art not only allude to the complexity of perception but also speak to the interconnectedness of all living beings.

The use of patterns can be found in various aspects of nature and even encoded within our DNA. By incorporating intricate patterns into his works, Tomaselli makes visible the invisible threads that connect us to the natural world.

Just as patterns emerge from chaos, Tomaselli’s art reflects the hidden order and beauty that lies within the chaos of life itself. Conclusion:

Fred Tomaselli’s art is a fascinating exploration of perception, imagination, and the interplay between the human and the natural.

Through the introduction of human figures and surreal juxtapositions, he challenges traditional notions of representation and identity. The intricate patterns that adorn his works provoke questions about perception and the interconnectedness of the world, drawing inspiration from indigenous art and the surrealist movement.

Fred Tomaselli’s art invites viewers to venture into the realms of imagination and contemplate the limitless possibilities that exist beyond our perceived realities.

Newspaper as Canvas and the Transformation of News

Use of Newspaper as Canvas

Fred Tomaselli’s creative exploration extends beyond traditional art materials. In his innovative approach, he chooses newspapers as the canvas for his layered collages and paintings.

One notable series where this technique is evident is “The Times.” In this ongoing series, Tomaselli weaves intricate compositions on newspaper pages, incorporating his signature style of patterns, imagery, and mixed media elements. Through his abstract editorials, Tomaselli challenges the conventional function of newspapers as a source of factual information.

By transforming newspaper pages into works of art, he invites viewers to reconsider the narratives presented by the media and to perceive news through a different lens. The utilization of newspapers as a canvas becomes a visual commentary on the power of media and its influence on shaping our perceptions of the world.

Transformation of Grim News into Colorful Images

One of the remarkable aspects of Tomaselli’s use of newspapers as a canvas is his ability to transform grim news into colorful and vibrant images. By layering collages and juxtaposing various elements, he infuses the news with transcendental qualities.

Through the manipulation of images, patterns, and colors, Tomaselli creates a visual journey that allows viewers to engage with challenging events in a way that is both thought-provoking and aesthetically pleasing. The transformation of grim news into colorful images helps the viewer make sense of difficult and unsettling events by presenting them in a visually digestible manner.

Tomaselli’s art becomes a means of processing information and encourages a deeper reflection on the complex nature of contemporary society.

Newspaper Collages during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Renewed Meaning of Newspaper Collages during the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the news landscape and the way we consume information. Against this backdrop, Tomaselli’s newspaper collages take on a renewed meaning.

The artist’s manipulation of news images and text becomes a vehicle for examining the universal impact of the pandemic and its effects on society. Through his collages, Tomaselli captures the changing nature of news during this unprecedented time.

Headlines about the pandemic dominate newspaper pages, filling them with stories of suffering, loss, and uncertainty. By incorporating these news clippings into his artwork, Tomaselli preserves and transforms these stories, elevating them to a higher level of contemplation.

Symbolism of Isolation and Hope in Newspaper Collages

In his newspaper collages during the Covid-19 pandemic, Tomaselli introduces powerful symbolism that reflects the collective experience of isolation and longing for hope. The interplay between the pandemic and the global protests for racial justice becomes a prominent theme in his artwork.

Tomaselli’s collage imagery often incorporates powerful images of arms, symbolizing both physical distancing and a call for unity and compassion. This interplay between the pandemic and the protests creates a visual narrative that invites viewers to reflect on the interconnectedness of global events and the need for collective action.

In a time of uncertainty and upheaval, Tomaselli’s newspaper collages become not only a reflection of the current state of the world but also a source of inspiration and contemplation. By transforming news into evocative visuals, he contributes to our collective understanding and processing of the challenges we face as a society.


Fred Tomaselli’s artistic journey encompasses a wide range of themes and techniques. From his creative use of newspapers as a canvas to his transformation of grim news into colorful and vibrant images, his art challenges conventional notions of representation and perception.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, his newspaper collages take on a renewed meaning, capturing the changing nature of news and symbolizing the collective experiences of isolation and hope. Through his innovative approach, Tomaselli invites viewers to engage with and reflect upon the complex realities of our world, encouraging a deeper understanding and connection.

Integration of Newspaper Collages and Resin Paintings

Abstract Use of Newspaper Text and Cosmic Forms

In his artistic practice, Fred Tomaselli seamlessly integrates newspaper collages with resin paintings, creating a striking juxtaposition of textures and concepts. With his abstract use of newspaper text, Tomaselli adds depth and complexity to his compositions.

The layers of newspaper text, at times obscured and fragmented, create a visual and conceptual interplay within the artwork. Alongside the newspaper collages, Tomaselli incorporates cosmic forms and constellations into his resin paintings.

These celestial elements evoke a sense of wonder and awe, inviting viewers to contemplate their place within the vastness of the universe. Through this integration of newspaper text and cosmic imagery, Tomaselli’s works explore the intersection between the everyday and the cosmic, blurring the boundaries between the personal and the universal.

Birds as Subject Matter and Commentary on Environmental Destruction

In addition to his use of newspaper collages and resin paintings, Fred Tomaselli often incorporates birds as subject matter in his artworks. This choice carries symbolic weight, as birds have long been associated with freedom, spirituality, and transformation.

However, Tomaselli’s depictions of birds also carry a hidden commentary on the environmental destruction caused by human activity. By incorporating plastic and internet influences in his bird imagery, Tomaselli highlights the ever-present impact of our materialistic and digital-driven world on the natural environment.

Through his art, he draws attention to the ecological consequences of human actions, prompting viewers to reflect on their own relationship with the planet and the urgent need for conservation and change.

Eclectic Influences and Dazzling Celebratory Nature

Eclectic Influences on Tomaselli’s Work

Fred Tomaselli’s artistic style is a rich tapestry of influences and inspirations, drawing from spiritual, art historical, and material world connections. Eastern philosophies, such as Zen Buddhism, have had a significant impact on his approach to art-making and his exploration of the transcendent.

Additionally, art historical references, ranging from Renaissance paintings to modern abstraction, can be seen in the compositional and aesthetic choices present in his works. Tomaselli’s engagement with the material world is also evident in his eclectic influences.

From the counterculture movement and the psychedelic era to contemporary consumer culture, his art reflects a deep immersion in the visual and cultural landscapes of his time. By embracing these diverse influences, Tomaselli creates artworks that speak to both art historical traditions and contemporary sensibilities.

Dazzling and Celebratory Nature of Tomaselli’s Work

One cannot discuss Fred Tomaselli’s art without acknowledging its dazzling and celebratory nature. His works exude a vibrant energy, reminiscent of the psychedelic influences that have shaped his style.

The vivid colors, intricate patterns, and dynamic compositions demand attention and captivate viewers’ imaginations. Tomaselli’s art invites viewers to revel in the immersive beauty of his creations, which often feel like whole worlds landing on the canvas.

Through his use of intense colors, complex textures, and intricate detail, he creates artworks that celebrate the richness and interconnectedness of life. The psychedelic influences that permeate Tomaselli’s art contribute to an experience that is transcendental, inviting viewers to engage with his work on a spiritual and sensory level.


Fred Tomaselli’s art is a testament to the power of creativity and the boundless possibilities of artistic expression. Through the integration of newspaper collages and resin paintings, he pushes the boundaries of materials and concepts, creating artworks that defy categorization.

His use of birds as subject matter and hidden commentary on environmental destruction prompts viewers to reflect on the impact of their own actions. Tomaselli’s eclectic influences, ranging from spiritual and art historical traditions to the material world, result in a dazzling and celebratory nature that invites viewers to be captivated by the rich tapestry of his creations.

Fred Tomaselli’s art serves as a reminder of the beauty and interconnectedness of our world, urging us to celebrate life and engage with the deeper questions of existence. In conclusion, Fred Tomaselli’s artistic journey encompasses a diverse range of themes, techniques, and influences.

From his exploration of Los Angeles psychedelia and the Beat generation to his innovative use of materials such as newspapers and resin, Tomaselli’s art challenges conventional notions of representation and perception. His incorporation of human figures, surreal juxtapositions, and intricate patterns invite viewers to question their understanding of reality and transcend the boundaries of imagination.

Furthermore, Tomaselli’s artworks during the Covid-19 pandemic offer a renewed perspective on the changing nature of news and symbolize the collective experiences of isolation and hope. The eclectic influences and dazzling celebratory nature of Tomaselli’s work remind us of the power of art to captivate, inspire, and provoke contemplation.

Ultimately, his art invites us to embrace our own creativity, question established norms, and celebrate the beauty and interconnectedness of our world.

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