Tom Block at the Fridge

Review cover
Mark Jenkins
Washington DC, June 28, 2012
Washington Post

At first glance, there might not seem to be anything classical about Tom Block’s style. The densely layered work in his “Jiwar,” at the Fridge, combines painting, collage and child-like drawing to suggest an urban wall layered with graffiti and tattered old posters. But Block says that the two pieces — which also served as backdrops for a production of his play, “White Noise” — draw on the thought of 13th-century mystic Sufi Farid ad-Din Attar and the imagery of 16th-century painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel.

While the large, multi-panel works are not primarily figurative, their chaos and complexity do suggest the hellish torments Bosch depicted. Yet where such painters derived their pictures from the Bible, Block throws anything and everything into his work. The artist, who will lead a drawing and collage workshop at 2 p.m. on Sunday, reflects a world (or an existence) that’s unstable and uncentered.