Liliane Tomasko presents new paintings for a dream of, her first exhibition with Blain|Southern. The exhibition title is a recurring refrain in the titles of works, such as a dream of: Violence Redefined and a dream of: Rapture Unleashed. Rather than outline a narrative, the titles attempt to describe the emotions triggered by Tomasko’s dreams. The new group of paintings shows the artist coming to terms with her own unconscious, evoked in broad patches and fibrous strands of pigment. ‘Dreams are not allegory’, writes Tomasko. ‘They are much more a reality with its own independent matrix, where the known and familiar come up against elements that are weird and unsettling. This combination can produce a kind of a suspense, a heightened sense of the present and it is this state of alertness that I am interested in exploring.’
The paintings in a dream of developed from dreams that embedded themselves deeply in the artist’s memory because they were so visceral and affecting. She draws on a repeated dream of flying, in the sweeping, boldly-coloured stokes that make up a dream of: Rapture Unleashed. The muted tones and divergent, erratic lines in a dream of: Unstoppable Growth references simultaneous sensations of both disgust and elation after dreaming that plants were multiplying uncontrollably between her teeth. All of the paintings invite the viewer to compare the declarative title to the open-endedness of the painting, and to interpret each work, which the artist calls ‘a space for uncertainty’, as if in a reverie of their own.
As she begins to paint, Tomasko chooses her palette based on memories of light and sensation. A background structure in dark spray paint provides a base note or mood, while subsequent layers of colour offer notes of harmony or discord. The veils of colour and underlying black structure interact in a sensual way, which can be soft and conciliatory, or marked by rupture and abrupt shifts in tone. Whether working in monochrome or a wide spectrum of colour, Tomasko’s layers of acrylic paint fade in and out of prominence much like the memories and emotions that sit at different levels within our consciousness.
Divided into one gallery of mostly large-scale colourful and expressive paintings, and a room with monochrome or darker works, a dream of sees Tomasko working with a confidence and openness, offering vibrant abstractions that provoke a range of conscious and unconscious thoughts. Giving herself license to push into new territories, she still considers the domestic sphere – and the image of the unmade bed, the place of dreams – as a catalyst for her paintings, and where we spend the majority of our unconscious lives.