Tom Friedman: Eternal Return
4733 McPherson Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108
September 27-November 23, 2019
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
September 6, 2019 – St. Louis, MO – Barrett Barrera Projects will open its fall season with Eternal Return, a solo exhibition by multimedia artist Tom Friedman on view at projects+gallery (4733 McPherson Avenue).
Eternal Return will explore the philosophical concept of infinite recurrence, the idea that all existence and energy will persist indefinitely. This concept is laced through Friedman’s work in several ways—from his obsessively repetitive processes, to his recurrent interest in both basic human drives and the pleasures and objects of youth. As a St. Louis-born artist, Friedman has used the city as a touch-point throughout his career to anchor his practice and references.
In Eternal Return, Friedman subverts our perception of the mundane and the meaningful through the pieces Care Package (Manipulated) (2006) and Vanishing Point (2006), manipulating commonplace objects to disrupt the superficial solace of what feels like home. The figurative sculpture Black and White (2009) extends this dichotomy into the human form, creating a meditation on materiality, self-perception and the symbiosis of public and private space.
Friedman structured Care Package using the packaging of everyday products that, on first glance, appear like anything you would see on the grocery store shelf. However, intent viewing reveals meticulous manipulations to the recognizable branding. The subtle changes to the wrapping turn the creature comfort of these consumables into grotesqueries, becoming a wry reminder of the ease with which we package and perceive our lives.
Vanishing Point evokes the daily act of returning home and undressing through the depiction of divested remnants of the workday. Printed at Island Press on the Washington University campus, Vanishing Point is a disembodied self-portrait of the Saint Louis-born artist that distills—both conceptually and formally—the infinite cycles of drift and return, presence and absence, and the connection with the places and the past that define us.
Black and White, made with window insulation foam, is a mass of surface textures that form the semblance of a human on the micro scale. Black and White is a quiet echo of his public sculptures that have been installed in St. Louis, including Looking Up (2018) at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium and Swamp Creature Friends (2016) at Washington University.
Tom Friedman (b. 1965, Saint Louis, MO) makes extraordinary work that explores ideas of perception, logic, and possibility. His often painstakingly rendered sculptures and works on paper inhabit the grey areas between the ordinary and the monstrous, the infinitesimal and the infinite, the rational and the uncanny. His work is often deceptive, its handmade intricacy masked by a seemingly mass-produced or prefabricated appearance. Friedman’s deadpan presentation implies content and form are seamless; expectations are overturned as the viewer slowly perceives that chasm between illusion and reality. Friedman’s work has been internationally exhibited in galleries and museums, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Magasin III Museum and Foundation, Stockholm; South London Gallery; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and numerous other institutions. His work is included in prestigious collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Contemporary Austin; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Brown University, Providence, RI; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; Art Institute of Chicago; St. Louis Art Museum, among several others.