Artist: Rich Tomasello // Exhibition: "Rhino Toys" // On view through Aug. 28 in Glow Gallery
For the past decade, Buffalo artist and educator Rich Tomasello has been building a strange and complex mythology. He started with drawings of rhinoceri, symbols he chose to represent the violent side of humanity, and gradually added context. There were rhinos on assembly lines, rhinos in menacing groups, rhinos engaged in a futile struggle against their own nature.
That ever-growing mythology is partly inspired by Eugene Ionesco's absurdist play "Rhinocerous," a story about man's inherent violence and his often hopeless attempts to repress it. It's also partly inspired by a vicious bar fight in which Tomasello was involved as a student, which led him to create the elaborate critique of violence in which he is currently involved.
Now, Tomasello is showing the latest evolution in his ever-expanding story in Glow Gallery. It's a series of toys created by the fictional Rhino corporation, which sells dangerous products like pipe bombs and Molotov cocktail kits to kids in packages reminiscent of "Star Wars" or "G.I. Joe" toys from the 1980s.
Below, Tomasello talks about his latest work, which includes large-scale toys as well as a series of mock commercials he created with producer Jon Manning and voiceover artist Dave Cash: