Setting is crucial to Tom Friedman. So much so that for the American artist’s next show, Monsters and Stuff, he went to the trouble of reconstructing a miniature replica of the Gagosian gallery space on London’s Britannia Street, along with scale replicas of each artwork, so that he could properly play around with positioning.
Click here to see more of Friedman's model and his artworks.
He equates the perimeter of the gallery with the limits of his consciousness, the pieces themselves acting as 'points of focus' to help viewers navigate. 'You come across a piece, and then you come across another piece, and then you start developing an understanding of why all these pieces are here, and why they hang or sit together,' he writes.
It becomes clear very quickly just what a stickler for detail Friedman really is. His starting materials are typically mundane – things like paper, wire, plastic cups, pencils, glitter, and styrofoam – but his final creations are intricate, detailed, and precise in their colourful chaos.
You get a sense, too, as to why he’s so fussy about staging as you traverse the gallery space, which feels sort of like stepping into a stranger’s dream, or possibly nightmare. Animated sculptures, drawings and huge paper collages dot the landscape, distorting scale and playing with perspective.
This isn’t art in any conventional sense, and the exercise isn’t one in mere aesthetics. So if you find yourself asking how, or what, or wondering why, just realize it’s all part of the fun.