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John Tomlinson-June 2017

In John Tomlinson’s professional art practice, he has embraced drawing as his major work. Making art since the 1970s, his work maps the historic transition that artists made from an analog time to a digital one. From the 1969 drawings in the book Nine Drawings: Skeleton Series to 1999, he drew expressively from observation in crayon, oilstick, pencil and graphite. During the early 2000s he started to make digital videos, combining drawing with animation and soundworks to create narrative motion drawings on the passage of time, small tribulations of life and other varied human interactions.

      In art writer/digital artist Douglas Davis' reflection on Tomlinson's work 1991+/­, Davis writes: “....In harmony with all these tendencies, Tomlinson is expansive, personal, open-­ended. He reminds me most of all of the lines in the magnificent Russian novel, The Master and Margarita, in which the circumscribed heroine, Margarita, takes off from the ground and flies, nude but unnoticed, over Moscow: Invisible and free! Invisible and free! In any sense his decision in 1991 to give up compression, perfection, and the idea of “singularity” for a work that knows no end (only a beginning) is as liberating as Margarita’s flight or the Information Highway, whose lust for infinitude he plainly shares.” -­ Douglas Davis, 1000 Miles More, the voices of John Tomlinson, 1992

     Following his epic installation of 1991+/­ at 55 Mercer, the theme of Tomlinson’s drawing series shown at the Painting Center in 1999, Modes of Escape, reflects on the many ways we use escape in our daily lives. In 2006, he created sound compositions for his drawings in short digital videos exploring the theme of escape. In 2009, he began using a translucent polyester substrate in a series of large drawings titled Dark Storms. These works engendered a positive expression of repressed history and memory, leading to the current series of self-­reflections on the experience of being male. His current work, The Misery Of Men, is an ongoing drawing project that includes a collaboration with poet/psychologist Karen Morris and a book of digital iPad drawings entitled Rage: the Misery of Men :: Hope: the Dawning of Men.

      John Tomlinson was director of the New York Studio Residency Program for the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design from 1992 to 2013. He taught drawing at Parsons the New School for Design, Fine Arts, from 1980 to 2001, and at the National Academy of Design from 1980­ t.o 1988. Tomlinson was born in Boston and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cooper Union School of Art. His extensive body of work can be seen at

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