The inspiration for Timothy Tompkins's paintings stem from an interest of engagement with the tropes and language of the medium’s historical movements such as pop, still life, and history painting. The paintings are grouped into series by subject, and frequently show variations on a similar theme, such as views of the Sears building in various weather conditions and most recently a series of paintings based on abstract images of the Large Hadron Collider. Tompkins's ideas about art-making express a combination of concepts: the material nature of painting and how the viewer perceives its surface, the history of painting as a medium, abstraction, memory, representation, and technology. Using commercial sign enamel, the enamel paintings are executed on 1/8” thick aluminum panels. The artist manipulates the liquid state of the paint to make more evident the traced contours of the image and form. This quality gives a transitory effect to the piece, as if the image is still manifesting.
The paintings reflect both physically and metaphorically a relational narrative which dissolves into form and color. This effect endeavors to mimic the layers of codes and semiotics of an image while simultaneously asking the viewer to participate in an expanded dialogue of contemplation and connotation of content. Additionally, the paintings attempt to reflect the influences of contemporary society, such as consumerism, mass media, and digital culture. Tompkins's interest in both the language of painting and contemporary theories of visual culture attract him to the images produced by various media, as a loose visual connection to painting's history and the medium's influence as a visual communicator. The paintings play upon the idea of revealing the unseen and invoke the notion of a disjunctive relationship between observation, representation, and interpretation.
Timothy Tompkins received his BFA from the Otis College of Art & Design (Los Angeles, CA) in 2003. His work is included in the collections of the Fondazione Benetton (Treviso, Italy), Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation (Los Angeles, CA), West Collection (Oaks, PA) and Harvard Business School (Cambridge, MA). Solo exhibitions include DCKT Contemporary (New York, NY), Studio La Citta (Verona, Italy), Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Project (CA), and the Manhattan Beach Creative Arts Center (CA). Group exhibitions include Fondazione Querini Stampalia (Venice, Italy), LA Louver, (Venice, CA), Santa Monica Museum of Art (CA), Laguna Art Museum, (Laguna Beach, CA) and Contemporary Art Center (New Orleans, LA), among others.
painting series Descriptions
SUPER COLLIDER SERIES
The Super Collider series of paintings depict abstracted images of the internal components of the Large Hadron Collider located near Geneva, Switzerland. I was intrigued by the form and representation of the object and its relationship to exploration, science and philosophy. Attempting to express the ethereal, paintings evoke the language of Gothic architecture connecting contemporary theories of physics with timeless concepts of the human condition and spirituality.
Merging influences from the media, social memory, politics and art historical references to the genre of history painting, my intent is for the paintings to reflect contemporary realities of the human condition. My interest in both the language of painting and contemporary theories of visual culture attract to me what I see in the images produced by mass media, as some sort of visual connection to painting's history and the medium's influence as a visual communicator.
Scientists capture images of nebulae with a technique of color reproduction known as the “Hubble Palette”, a process in which the elemental properties of stellar objects are assigned specific RGB codes. The process allows a viewer to see these clouds of dust, gas, and plasma otherwise hidden from physical view. The manipulated subject in photos of nebula could be interpreted as representative stand-ins of the subject much like the media photograph is meant to represent, by its presence, the specificity of any given moment or event. The paintings play upon the idea of revealing the unseen and invoke the concepts of a disjunctive relationship between observation, representation, and interpretation.
LEFT OVERS SERIES
Referencing the still life paintings of Chardin, these images are of “left over” merchandise and “fast food” restaurant meals that I arranged and photographed on the store’s shelves or on tables in the restaurants. With these paintings, I wish to address the concept of consumer excess, the passage of time, and the representation of the “everyday” objects that tend to define a culture.
The images from the Reenactment series are from photographs or screen grabs from various documentaries captured and manipulated via computer. The paintings explore the connection between the history of painting as social and historical recorder and broadcast media as contemporary vehicle for the dissemination of history.
Interstate Sublime Series
The series of paintings take as their foundation a re-investigation of the Hudson River School artists and the idea of national identity expressed through landscape. The paintings began with a series of photographs taken during several road trips. The scenic environments range from mountain to ocean. With the point of view from that of the driver, the viewer is a participant and conspirator within the landscape in contrast to the 19th century ideal of simple observer of the landscape. Further connecting the work with the past, the source photographs were manipulated with the computer to reference and enhance their color palette in an effort to represent the Luminist effect that was a defining characteristic of the “Hudson River” artists.
In a group of paintings titled 'Sears ‘, I am referencing Claude Monet's series of work that dealt with the cathedral at Rouen, France. Based on the Sears building situated in downtown Los Angeles, I photographed the facade in various light and weather conditions in an effort to replicate Monet's experience of painting the cathedral. My use of the Sears building presents the possibility of consumerism as a new religion. Monet's use of the traditional icon reveals an important motivating factor of both European culture and art. The Sears building represents the importance placed on consumer culture today as the motivating factor that drives our society.
POWER Generators SERIES
In a group of paintings titled 'Power Generators ‘, I am referencing Claude Monet's series of work that dealt with a grove of poplar trees he painted near the river Epte in France. I photographed the facility in various light and weather conditions in an effort to replicate Monet's experience of painting the poplars. Based on the Haynes Power Generating Facility located in Long Beach, CA the paintings compositionally reference Monet’s work while at the same time contrast the natural with the man-made. Supplying energy to approximately 1.5 million people, the facility also bears an underlying layer of vulnerability. My use of the power facility is an attempt to represent a physical manifestation of the word “power” and explore the semiotics and layered connotations of such a word.