"Daydreams and nightmares seem to inform Stephen Tompkins' work equally. One addictively absorbing example is GummyMorph, a compendium of lugubrious shape-shifting goblins and tumescent worms that inflate, bloat, pop, reconfigure, melt and sway to a mesmerizing percussive soundtrack. Domesticated Celestial Bestiary (this animation opens with a gong as a house decants an unlikely menagerie of creatures before promptly deliquescing), is another key example of Tompkins' associative process which playfully sutures the sublime and the ridiculous." - Robin Clark, PhD, MCASD (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) for the San Diego Art Prize 2010 nomination
"Tompkins’ work is almost like as if the entire Dr. Seuss series of children books (not as if that series wasn’t bizarre enough) went on a 14 day LSD binge with all the other necessary drug accoutrements like in “Fear and Loathing Las Vegas“…pure chaotic beauty." - Empty Kingdom
"Just as an LSD stamp distorts our vision , the paintings of Stephen Tompkins reform our perception. Continuously changing from background to foreground, we are following lines and have been trapped trying to find a figurative form or an organized chaos, we are caught red-handed trying to find the beginning or the end. Stephen Tompkins multilayered visions experiences with the abundance of informations and the power of chance . His anti-natural cartoon forms seem suddenly organic. Well known strokes of our childhood are losing their original forms, abandoned in their transparencies, they build a space of permanent metaphors suggesting the ugliness of truth. The amount of unfinished bodies sporadically crossed by precedent or future layers are vanishing the figurative into abstract. Those humorous see-throughs are far of just satisfying some esthetic purpose, they succeed reminding us to the vulnerability of humanity and the fragile aspect of beauty. Stephen Tompkins has reached the point where he redefines the difference between a painting which is directly self displaying or the one doing it through illustration." - Jaybo AKA Monk, Artist, I Wish U Sun
Biography by Luis De Jesus, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
A painter, experimental animator and composer, Stephen Tompkins was born 1971, Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, Ohio, with a B.A. in Philosophy (1995). He also participated in the post-graduate program at Ohio University (1996) studying semiotics, phenomenology, and deconstruction, and as well as art, music theory and electronic music composition at Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio (1990). Tompkins’ paintings, drawings, and animated videos employ the familiar iconography of animated cartoons and comic books in order to explore the fragmented subjectivities and cultural schizophrenia that permeates any sense of “rootedness” in our post-modern society. By fundamentally radicalizing the inherent codes of the genre (i.e. the apparent distortion of seemingly recognizable lines and forms) his work aims to formulate a new way of exposing the continually shifting cultural conventions that impose themselves on the individual, while revealing new associations and new hybrids with themes of memory, hallucination, dreams, nightmares, the unconscious and the subliminal.
Stephen Tompkins was recently nominated for the San Diego Art Prize 2010 by Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego curator Robin Clark, PhD, and a Maverick Movie Award for his composing for "Best Original Score" for the animated short film Rubbuds. He also filmed, directed, and produced the film and album Daniel Johnston at Home LIVE (2009), a music documentary performance of Daniel Johnston in Waller, Texas, and his animated short, Gummymorph, appears in the film Freak Out in Cucamonga, a documentary about the early studio years of Frank Zappa. He is currently planning to collaborate with internationally renowned avant-garde composer John Zorn on a new animated film. Tompkins has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the US and Europe, including, most recently, “Where on Earth Have You Been?” at Kunst and Andenken Gallery, Amsterdam; "FrischFleisch", Intoxicated Demons Gallery, Berlin; "Listen to Your Heart", MOHS Gallery, Copenhagen; "One Up", The Public Trust, Dallas; Gallery Artists' Annual 2007, BLK/MRKT Gallery, Los Angeles; “Intersections”, Cypress College Gallery, Cypress, CA.
Stephen also makes an appearance in the Werner Herzog / David Lynch film "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?" playing the role of EMT.
Stephen Tompkins lives and works in Southern California is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
Photo by Robert Benson
“What would happen if you took classic 1920's cartoons and Ren and Stimpy episodes, chewed them up with shades of primary colors, and then horcked the whole thing onto a canvas? Nothing as good as Stephen Tompkins' work, for sure, though that's exactly what his pieces remind me of. It's like an abstract celebration of cartoon body parts in a roiling pop orgy." - Brad Martin Juxtapoz
“Stephen Tompkins is a shockingly versatile artistic chameleon, working in drawing, painting, 3-D digital design, animation, music, and sculpture. His fittingly titled show Transmogrifications (the word refers to the act of changing from one form into another) includes several shape-shifting examples of his most recent work. Regardless of his medium du jour, Tompkins' surreal, explosive, and whimsical aesthetic vision is the thread that neatly ties it all together.” - Heather Silva Flavorpill LA
“Tompkins' blobs and thingamabobs are closely related to those of various fine artists, especially squish-master Paul Henry Ramirez, not to mention Nina Bovasso, who large-scale watercolors look like medieval manuscripts painted with Mr. Bubble.
It's no accident that Tompkins studied Semiotics, the science of verbal and visual symbols. Whether inside or out, though, Tompkins' paintings and drawings here are fascinating, especially when he combines a human figure with trippy, drippy abstract fantasias.
'Friedrich and Siggy', for instance, starts with vintage engraved portraits of Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Niezsche, but replaces their heads with bubbling, swirling visual nonsense. Delightfully, "Friedrich sports discreet Mickey Mouse Club ears.”
- from Affirmations, Apparitions, Diaries & Dreams by Douglas Max Utter The Cleveland Plain Dealer
SELECTED EXHIBITION HISTORY
2010 "Escape 2010" : Vienna Austria (October 2010) 2010 STROKE 03 Urban Art Fair : Berlin Germany 2010 Luis De Jesus Los Angeles (Opening July 3rd 2010) 2010 "Here Not There" : MCASD (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) 2010 STROKE 02 Urban Art Fair : Munich Germany 2010 "Where on Earth Have You Been?" (a survey of the most influential contemporary urban artists working today) : curated by Mather:Kunst at Stereolab Gallery Amsterdam, Netherlands 2010 "New Contemporaries III" exhibition for San Diego Art Prize nominations: Project X, Solana Beach California 2010 Intoxicated Demons Gallery : Stroke 02 'Warmup' Exhibition : Munich Germany 2009 Solo exhibition "FrischFleisch" : Intoxicated Demons Gallery : Berlin Germany 2009 "Kunst im Tresor" with Intoxicated Demons Gallery : Munich Germany 2008 "Listen to Your Heart" with Islands Fold at MOHS Gallery : Copenhagen Denmark 2008 "TRANSMOGRIFICATIONS" (solo) Found Gallery : Los Angeles 2008 Art Now Fair : New York City, New York 2008 Cypress College Gallery "Intersections" : Cypress California 2007 Jack Fischer Gallery (San Francisco) at the Red Dot Art Fair : Miami Beach 2007 The Public Trust "One Up" : Dallas Texas 2007 Kunst - und Kulturverein : Hamburg Germany 2007 Blutenweiss Gallery : "Anonymous Drawings 6" : Berlin Germany 2007 Art Prostitute Gallery "Melodic Inversions and Contrary Motions" with Ron English and Steven-Hopwood Lewis : Dallas Texas 2007 The Venice Contemporary : Los Angeles 2007 Blutenweiss Gallery : "Anonymous Drawings 5": Berlin Germany 2007 BLK/MRKT Gallery Artists' Annual 2007 : Los Angeles, California 2006 David Leonardis Gallery : Chicago Illinois 2006 "Channel Nine" : Distinction Art Gallery : San Diego, California 2006 "Evidence of the New" : Thomas Lavin at the Pacific Design Center : West Hollywood, California 2006 "Works on Paper" : Fluxfactory : Long Island City, New York 2006 "Labyrinth" at ONSIX Gallery : San Francisco, California 2006 "Fanatical Attics" at ONSIX Gallery : San Francisco, California 2005 Galerie Atelier Herenplaats : Rotterdam, Netherlands 2005 Jack Fischer Gallery : INSIDE/OUTSIDE : San Francisco, California 2004 "Affirmations, Apparitions, Diaries & Dreams" : Headfooters Gallery : Cleveland Ohio 2004 SOLO "Stephen Tompkins: Supraconscious" : Solo show at Risk Press Gallery : West Hollywood, California 2003 B & D Art Gallery : Geneva, Switzerland 2003 "San Francisco Invades Nashville" at TAG Gallery : Nashville, Tennessee 2003 SOLO "Stephen Tompkins' Chimeras" : Headfooters Gallery : Cleveland, Ohio 2002 "Mondes Interieurs (Inside Worlds) Black & White Drawing Exhibit" at B & D Art Gallery : Geneva Switzerland 2002 "Stephen Tompkins: Hallucinations & Other Oddities" Solo showcase at Minna Street Gallery : San Francisco, California 2002 "Digital Visions" at The Center for Contemporary Art : Sacramento California, 2001 Group Exhibit at Balazo Mission Badlands Gallery : San Francisco California (Collaborative works with Joel Elrod) 2001 "Bushwhacked" Balazo Mission Badlands Gallery : San Francisco California 2001 SOLO "Stephen Tompkins Selected Works 1998-2001" : solo show at Architects & Heroes : San Francisco, California 2000 SOLO "Stephen Tompkins: New Paintings & Screenprints" at FUSE, San Francisco California 1999 "The Art of Daniel Johnston & Stephen Tompkins" at Ironwood Industries : Austin, Texas 1998 Group Exhibit at Ironwood Industries : Austin, Texas 1997 Group Exhibit at SPACES Gallery: Cleveland Ohio
2009 "FRISCHFLEISCH" MONOPOL Germany 2009 "Year One Rewind" by DirtyPilot Press 2008 "The Interview with Stephen Tompkins" by Brad Martin for Secret Still / Juxtapoz 2007 "BLK/MRKT TWO" by BLK/MRKT Gallery and Die Gestalten Verlag 2007 "Manuscribbles" by Anteism Gallery Press 2007 "Anonymous Drawings 6" by Anke Becker 2006 "The Life, Art & Music of Daniel Johnston" by Tarssa Yazdani & Don Goede - Last Gasp Press 2006 Juxtapoz October "Pop Life" section "Fanatical Attics" 2006 Juxtapoz August "Fanatical Attics" 2005 New American Paintings Fall Issue #60 2004 Cleveland Plain Dealer "Outsiders Express Their Inner Selves" by Douglas Max Utter 2004 Raw Vision Magazine Issue 48 Featured in Raw News 2004 Northern Ohio Live Magazine "Affirmations, Apparitions, Diaries & Dreams" 2004 Raw Vision Magazine Issue 47 2003 Raw Vision Magazine Issue 44 2003 Raw Vision Magazine Issue 42 Featured in Raw News 2003 Cleveland Plain Dealer May 8th Front page of Arts 2002 Raw Vision Magazine Issue 41 2002 Raw Vision Magazine Issue 40 Featured in Raw News 2002 Nashville Rage : Critics Choice by Nicole Pietrantoni 2002 San Francisco Examiner : 'Buskwhacking' by Joyce Nishioka 2001 Area I Magazine "An Interview with Stephen Tompkins" by Dulcey Antonucci 1999 Austin Chronicle "The Art of Daniel Johnston & Stephen Tompkins" by Ben Wilcott