Maria Tomasula, "Vast"
May 14 - June 26, 2004
Opening Reception: Friday, May 14, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Forum Gallery
8069 Beverly Blvd. (at Crescent Heights Blvd.), Los Angeles, California 90046
Contact: Niccolò Brooker
Telephone: (323) 655-1550, Fax: (323) 655-1565
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
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Maria Tomasula, "The Fabulous
Confession II", 2004, 12 x 9 inches

Los Angeles, California – On May 14, 2004, Forum Gallery presents the exhibition Maria Tomasula: Vast from May 14 – June 26, 2004, with an opening reception Friday evening May 14, from 6:00- 8:00.

This first exhibition of Maria Tomasula’s paintings in California includes sixteen exquisite, meticulous, and radiant still lifes, each replete with its own allegorical meaning. By melding whimsical humor with imaginative and spiritual inspiration the artist fully succeeds in delivering a poetic vision of irreconcilable issues germane to our contemporary society and the human condition.

Maria Tomasula was raised in the outskirts of Chicago. The iconography in her paintings germinates from her religious upbringing and specifically her Mexican Catholic heritage. Red mottles, disembodied hands and hearts, dripping tears, doves and serpents disclose an intensity which one encounters in Spanish influenced Catholic societies. Such symbols offer a wide range of interpretable visual references such as the Sacred Heart, Christ’s passion, and ex-voto offerings of gratitude for saintly intervention on behalf of a soul in need. These semblances and apparitions convey sentiments ranging from piety to forgiveness and the exquisitely painful path of redemption. They form the basic language this extraordinarily gifted painter selects for personal expression.

While not purely religious expressions of a devotee, Tomasula’s paintings are a face to a worldly struggle by an artist attempting to illuminate and reconcile diametrically opposed notions of ‘believing’ and not. Her own forma mentis is perfectly attuned to address such a dialogue, as her parents and grandparents were both divided along lines of faith.

In the painting Web a gloved fist holds a string onto which is attached a halo of connected butterflies. The sense of entrapment and manipulation generated by the exerted pressure of the controlling hand are assuaged, even betrayed, by the shear beauty of the butterflies. Hence the painting is a metaphor for the surreptitiously complex nature of religion and life. Fabulous Confession I presents the viewer with the historically malignant vision of a coiled snake who presents himself as less malevolent than anticipated. Affixed with pins to his side are two delicate butterflies and out of his open mouth flows a series of innocuous flower petals. Again, Tomasula provides us with a metaphor for oppositional qualities, in this case the insidious and potentially self-serving purpose of asking for forgiveness.

Some of the paintings in the Forum Gallery exhibition appear to be grounded by gravity, contained in a somewhat comprehensible though improbable optical space. Others are nudged even further to pure imagination and appear to float in a continuum of seemingly surrealist impossibility. Whether the works give spiritual form to material concerns or vice-versa, all of Tomasula’s paintings call our attention to the exhausting and interminable search to define in a world in which everything is defined by itself and its opposite. Pluralism and the complexities of heterogeneity make that quest all the more challenging.

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