The next chapter in Rich Tomasello's artistic journey will open up to the public at 464 Gallery
on March 9. The exhibit, entitled "BREED," will build upon the themes that Tomasello established in his first solo show, "Rhinoceros
" and will continue to confront the issues of conformity, masculinity, violence and abuse of power in today's society, this time with different mediums and a more universal perspective.
"The themes in Rhinoceros were very personal," Tomasello said. "It was my story of being beaten in a bar by seven men. Rhinoceros was a narrative depiction of what happened physically and mentally. I was also inspired by Eugene Ionesco's play Rhinoceros in which people literally turn into rhinoceroses, conforming and following the herd, embracing violence and simple-mindedness. With BREED, I wanted to create work more universal and broaden my Rhinoceros story and hopefully make it more accessible to a larger audience. In a way, BREED is the origin story of the Rhinoceros characters. It alludes to their beginnings and shows where they are headed in the future."
BREED, which will feature detailed pen and ink work, large ink washes and clay installations, depicts Tomasello's transformation from being the victim of a brutal attack to becoming a cognizant spectator of the violence unfolding in the world around him. "The themes and ideas in my work: conformity, masculinity, violence, and the abuse of power are topics that are occurring everyday, really everywhere," he said. "My characters reflect society. They can represent corrupt government officials and they can also represent bullies in schools."
After sharing his personal story through his Rhinoceros exhibit last year, Tomasello quickly learned that he was not alone in his suffering. "Many people came up to me, some with tears in their eyes, with a similar story," he said. "Some had also been beaten. Others had been bullied or ridiculed for being different. Some people connected some of the imagery to the Holocaust while others viewed it as a visual representation of post-traumatic stress disorder. This feedback helped me realize that my story was bigger than me."
BREED will revive the dark themes of Rhinoceros by presenting the same, barbaric characters: simplistic heads wearing the horned mark of the aggressor and expressions devoid of emotion. One piece, entitled "Shipping/Receiving," (shown above) will depict one of the savage Rhinoceros characters being "shipped" into the world, spreading violence into people's everyday life. Others will present seemingly infinite numbers of Rhinoceroses, conveying the magnitude and severity of the violence in our society.
Tomasello's new pieces will also convey his artistic growth since his first solo show. "I would like to think these works show a bit more maturity," he said. "They aren't all viscerally created in one sitting, many are more methodical and have a certain level of craftsmanship."
The opening event will take place from 6 to 11 p.m. at 464 Gallery, located at 464 Amherst Street. This show will be the first of this year's 464 PRIME exhibits curated by gallery owner Marcus Wise. There will be complimentary food and drink at the event, as well as free street parking. The exhibit will remain on display through March 21.
For more information on the event, visit the Facebook page
. To view more of Tomasello's work, including pieces from his first solo show, visit his website