Luis Tomasello

Chromoplastic Atmosphere No.710


Not on display
Luis Tomasello 1915–2014
Acrylic paint on wood
Support, circular: 1000 x 1000 mm
Presented by the artist 2013


Chromoplastic Atmosphere No.710 1992 is a circular, monochrome relief painting in acrylic paint on wood by the Argentinian artist Luis Tomasello. The work incorporates a raised section that is an offset square forming a diamond shape, the points of which touch the edge of the circle. In the centre of this raised diamond there is a small square aperture (measuring 10 x 10 mm). Unlike some earlier works in which the raised section projects above the backboard (see, for example, Chromoplastic Atmosphere No.383 1975, Tate T13999), in this case the diamond relief area is mounted directly onto the circular backboard. The areas of relief and the central aperture create darker areas which emphasise the play of light and shade that characterises Tomasello’s work.

From the late 1950s Tomasello’s work explored the nuances of geometric abstraction through colour, relief and visual effects. But it was only after 1960, and his move to Paris, that he began to concentrate on the effects of light, shadow and reflected colour, resulting in his extensive series of works Atmosphère chromoplastique (Chromoplastic Atmosphere). This work belongs to that series, as does the earlier square white relief Chromoplastic Atmosphere No.383. Early Chromoplastic Atmospheres largely depended upon subtle effects and visual illusions applied to a white monochrome relief. This usually took the form of a series of regularly repeated modular forms – orthogonals or cubes with bevelled edges – designed to receive and reflect light. These reliefs maintained a resolute abstraction that harnessed light without needing to revert to any technological apparatus. In this way they achieved optical effects through a simplicity of means. Tomasello also translated this investigation into architectural projects on a monumental scale. In the 1980s Tomasello began to make black monochrome reliefs, such as Chomoplastic Atmosphere No.710, which have been called ‘Lumières noires’ (‘black lights’), thus also reinforcing their relationship to the exploration of the effects of light.

During the 1940s Tomasello was associated with the Buenos Aires-based Arte Concreto-Invención – a group of artists working with geometric abstraction who had themselves broken away from the more ludic Arte Madí group. Tomasello was later influenced by Piet Mondrian, particularly his New York period for its combination of colour and dynamic line. But his work from the 1950s also bears the influence of Max Bill and Georges Vantongerloo. In 1960 Tomasello was invited by Max Bill to participate in the Konkrete Kunst exhibition that Bill staged in Zürich. He also participated in many of the important exhibitions of op and kinetic art including Bewogen Beweging (Moving Movement) at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1961, Nouvelle Tendence II in Zagreb in 1963 and The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1965.

Further reading
Luis Tomasello: Una Mano Enamorada, exhibition catalogue, Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires 1997.
Osbel Suárez, César Paternosto, María Amalia García and others, Cold America: Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934–1973), exhibition catalogue, Fundación Juan March, Madrid 2011.
Serge Lemoine, Tomasello: Visible Structure and Reflected Color, exhibition catalogue, Ascaso Gallery, Miami 2012.

Tanya Barson
April 2013

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