Recommended: The Antipodes Project at The Fridge – Through August 29
by Larry Janezich
Wikipedia – “The term … changed its sense from the original ‘under the feet, opposite side’ to ‘those with the feet opposite’… referring to hypothetical people living on the opposite side of the Earth. Medieval illustrations imagine them in some way “inverted”, with their feet growing out of their heads, pointing upward.”
The Antipodes Project is an example of visionary art comprised of four large scale multi-paned tableaus began in 2006. Three of the works are complete and the fourth is still a work in progress. Tolman chose The Fridge for the premier of the project – a ten year collaboration of more than 30 artists, each of whom shares Tolman’s capacity for attention to detail. There are an additional dozen or so individual visionary pieces by Tolman and some of his collaborators in the show.
The Antipodes Project references Hieronymus Bosch in an even more bizarre and surreal exercise of imagination, creativity and spontaneity. The catalyst Tolman provided each of his collaborators was a text from Aldous Huxley’s Heaven and Hell – along with encouragement to seek out the “exceedingly improbable” creatures, in the “remoter regions of the mind.” The artists sent their ink drawings to Tolman on 11 X 14 Bristol board panels by mail.
Tolman assembled the pieces into 12, 20, and 18 panel compositions and provided the artistic bridges connecting each panel to the others and integrating them into a unified whole. That required learning the styles of ink drawing of the contributors and then seamlessly morphing one style into another.
According to Tolman, the project started as a hobby, almost died, was rejuvenated and took on a new life of its own. Now Tolman hopes to continue the project, make more pieces, and “see where it goes.”
The artist currently works in a studio on Capitol Hill. He received his MFA from American University in 2012 and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In addition to The Fridge, he is currently showing works in two galleries in NYC.
You can see more of his large body of work here: http://www.bentolman.com/ and on his Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/bentolman.art/?fref=nf
The Fridge is located at 516 & ½ 8th Street, SE, rear alley. www.thefridgedc.com Open hours tend to be irregular. Watch for the sandwich board sign on 8th Street, next to the Shakespeare Theater Administrative Offices.