Over a packed four days in New York doing research for a future show, we managed to briefly stop by the Editions/Artists’ Book Fair taking place in Chelsea this past weekend. Occupying two floors of the former Dia building on West 22nd, the fair was intimate, friendly, and filled with surprises, not least of which were the many strong showings by non-New York exhibitors such as Clay Street Press (Cincinnati), Western Editions (Chicago), and High Point Center for Printmaking (Minneapolis). We’ll profile each of these organizations separately in a series of future posts, as well as New York-based standouts Specific Object and Forth Estate.

For this post, we are focusing on the exquisite Fred Tomaselli print produced in special edition for this year’s fair (above). Titled Bloom, it is a seven-colour screenprint on archival inkjet photogram featuring an array of leaves from the artist’s own garden. Based on an earlier painting, Bloom #1, which was shown in Wave Hill’s late spring 2011 exhibition Alchemy & Inquiry, the print is expressive of the care and attention with which Tomaselli must have worked to lay down precise layers of gouache over each leaf’s surface.

This sense of focus and repetitive movement imparts a meditative, even devotional quality to the work, recalling the transcendent and luminous Tantra drawings from India collected by French poet Franck André Jamme and exhibited at The Drawing Center in 2004-05 (see below). Painted by unknown artists using gouache, watercolour, and tempera on paper, these images serve as meditation aids in India and are based on a symbolic pictorial language dating from the 17th century.

Like the Tantra drawings, Tomaselli’s oscillating, organic shapes evoke natural cycles, bodily forms, and/or perpetual motions such as opening/closing, entering/exiting, coalescing/dispersing. In meditating on such timeless and universal patterns and ideas, viewers may glimpse for themselves something of the heightened awareness one can imagine was achieved by the artists (known and unknown) through the making of these transformative works.



Fred Tomaselli in Alchemy & Inquiry at Wave Hill
Alchemy & Inquiry reviewed by Noah Dillon in The Brooklyn Rail
Selected works by Tomaselli at James Cohan Gallery
—especially this 82-inch square work
Tantra Drawings from India exhibition at The Drawing Center
Editions | Artists Book Fair 2011 website

images, from top to bottom:
Fred Tomaselli,
Bloom, 2011. Screenprint over archival inkjet print, edition of 200.
Untitled, 1993, Udaïpur; Untitled, 1997, Jodhpur; Untitled, 1990, Sanganer; by unknown artists. Gouache, watercolour, and tempera on paper. Private collection, Paris.