Universally Unknown opens 'Floating Downstream' by Tom Dunn

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Universally Unknown opens 'Floating Downstream' by Tom Dunn
Tom Dunn, Toevine Dionysus.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Universally Unknown is presenting Floating Downstream by Tom Dunn. Come and take a strange journey downstream into the mind of the artist Tom Dunn. Dunn’s “Floating Downstream” series borrows its name from John Lennon lyrics describing the beginning of an acid trip.

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.
It is not dying, it is not dying.
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void.
It is shining, it is shining.

Tom Dunn
I am an Australian artist based in the US. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Victorian College of the Arts and an Honors degree in Fine Art from Monash University in Melbourne. Currently I am doing a Master of Fine Art degree at the University of California Santa Barbara. Over the last several years in the US I have done residencies in Vermont, New Mexico, Utah, Torrance and Los Angeles. Overseas residencies include the Philippines, Norway and China. I have exhibited in Europe, Asia, South Africa, the US and Australia and I'm represented by Durden and Ray in Los Angeles.

I predominantly make expressionistic, semiabstract, figurative paintings. My paintings are improvised; the imagery derives from the subconscious. The works begin by pushing and pulling paint around the canvas until figures and ideas emerge. As the painting progresses, these forms develop characteristics and evolve with the environments from which they spawn. The early stages of my painting are like a primordial soup; a petri dish for things to ferment, mutate and proliferate. The figures frequently have carnivalesque attributes such as hybridity, metamorphosis and the grotesque. The ongoing series Floating Downstream, borrows its name from John Lennon lyrics describing the beginning of an acid trip.

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.
It is not dying, it is not dying.
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void,
It is shining, it is shining.

Pareidolia is the tendency to see images in clouds or in the ink blots of a Rorschach test. I exploit this phenomenon in my stream of consciousness approach to painting. Deciphering images in the loose, gestural mark-making of a painting in its early stages. These embryonic images are built upon and in turn imply narrative directions for the work. Beginning a painting without ideas can make the emerging imagery feel conjured. It is a journey inward and the images are things I encounter as I float downstream.

Streams flow into other streams and gene pools coalesce from which new life forms evolve. A cross pollination of images and figures emerge over different paintings; sometimes intentionally, and other times surfacing of their own accord. The figures change, to assume characteristics of their respective environments. Familiar objects can be seen in the paintings, but like in a dream, can feel unfamiliar in the context of the strange worlds they populate.

Editing is a crucial part of my process. Each painting has its own evolutionary path: the strongest images and ideas survive and the weakest either adapt or get buried under paint or are preyed upon. This Darwinian-like psychodrama plays out as creatures struggle to propagate their genes through acts of violence and procreation.

Some paintings mimic evolutionary processes from the real world. The layer a mollusk produces to protect itself which becomes a pearl in Nacre Shuck. Dandelions (Erythrospermum) using the wind to disperse their seeds and plants lustfully absorbing water in Osmosis Garden and Osmosis Night Garden.

Although I am an atheist artist inspired by evolution, I have always been drawn to the drama and intensity of religious art. I’m attracted to ceremony, worship, scenes of religious ecstasy and eternal damnation. I find the natural world beautiful but lament only getting to see evidence of evolution, not to witness its brutal drama unfold slowly over millions of years.

The carnivalesque notion of the never-ending human comedy and my desire to participate in it led me to expand my practice to include narrative video, sculpture, and projects. Based on rumour, scandal and innuendo from the world of entertainment, these works are a form of fan art or unauthorized memorabilia. They embrace Schadenfreude and the grotesque. Part homage and part nefarious voyeurism, they blur the line between fiction and reality. They represent a manifestation of an audience’s desire when it is no longer sanctioned to participate; when the carnival is over.

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