Tom Friedman

October 24 - December 9, 2006

Tom Friedman -
TOM FRIEDMAN
balloonsonceiling, 2006
Paper-mache, paint and string
83-1/2 x 47 x 48 inches (212.1 x 119.4 x 121.9 cm)


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Opening reception for the artist: Tuesday, October 24th, 6 - 8 pm


What interests me is my inability to process everything that I am confronted with and the idea of the whole...what unifies what I do is taking something that is crystal clear to me, something that I seem to know, and finding that the closer I get and the more carefully I inspect it, the less clear it becomes.
--Tom Friedman

Gagosian Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Tom Friedman. This is Friedman's first exhibition with the gallery.

Empiricist, alchemist, sage, and prankster, Friedman invents startling works of art by taking very ordinary materials - paper, wire, cardboard, plastic cups, pencils, foam core, Styrofoam and other odds and ends at hand - and transforming them using highly specific processes. Whether constructing or deconstructing the object, either on a microscopic or macroscopic level, he strives to comprehend the elementary mechanisms of visual and plastic metabolism.

Earlier in his development, Friedman took bodily substances (his own excrement and hair) and subjected them to geometrical and structural rigors relating to minimalist aesthetics and purity of form. Since then he has expanded his focus to consider both the structure of information and the effects of excessive information on human consciousness. In recent work, models of diffusion abound, from an exploded body (the artist's own) fashioned from colored paper to a vast collage of images, phrases and headlines cut from the pages of the last ten years of Artforum.

A technical virtuoso, Friedman works on an intricate scale with obsessive attention to detail. Significantly, his work is untitled or precisely titled, and on occasion he has made deliberate connection with Conceptualist strategies involving language and meaning. Time - expressed in the irrefutable fact of skilled handwork or in the occasional titles that literally describe process (for example, "a piece of paper stared at for one thousand hours") - is a 'primary material." His oeuvre reveals five constant elements: the material, the process of altering the material; the form that it takes; its representation; and, finally, the logic that connects these first four elements together, which often appear as diverse ideas and forms. Usually the process or the material dictates a very clear limit - a box of spaghetti, every word in the dictionary and so on. Playful yet exacting, his art explores the relations between the everyday and the epic.

Friedman continues to meditate on all manner of material existence from dust bunnies to the cosmos, from the idea of nothing to the idea of everything. Quirky, humorous and endearing, his mutations and transformations of base material, hovering as they do at the limits of the visible, beg the defining questions of existence itself: What is it? How is it made? Why is it like this? Where did it come from? Why is it here?

Tom Friedman was born in St Louis, MO in 1965. He lives and works in Leverett, Massachusetts. Solo exhibitions of his work include the Museum of Modern Art (1995), the Art Institute of Chicago (1996), Fondazione Prada, Milan (2002), and South London Gallery (2004). A major exhibition of his work toured U.S. museums from 2000 to 2002, including MCA Chicago and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Friedman's work was the subject of a Phaidon monograph in 2001.