TOMAK /   Thomas

Austria 1970

Sculpture, Painting, Collage, Drawing

April 6, 2016
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

We saw it all, so is not that easy today to earn a fame of being a bad boy of the contemporary art scene. However, the Austrian artist TOMAK managed to decorate his artistic CV with precisely this label. He did it quite naturally, simply by being himself – an artistic figure, a staged persona, and a brand. This Viennese artist even invented a word of his own to explain his state of mind – and the word is ANTIST and a message to all of his fellow artists is Be an Artist – Be an ANTIST. Being an ANTIST involves mirroring reality, the way it is while ridiculing human at any occasion, mocking him for his constant hunger for money and power.

TOMAK - Four Unknown Thoughts
TOMAK – Four Unknown Thoughts

TOMAK and his Strong Opinion on Today’s Art

Even though from time to time TOMAK’s name experiences some kind of metamorphoses, by turning into PHANTOMAK or AUTOMAK, the artist is clear on one thing: TOMAK is always TOMAK. It’s just that different projects and different scenes influence this fact but he gladly goes along, playing with the name. When asked about today’s art, TOMAK never hesitates to deplore the state of it, irritated by the fact that nowadays’ art serves merely to shock and the artists just don’t have enough bravery and initiative to change it. As an illustrative example of what is demanded of one artist, TOMAK gives the example of Michelangelo who told the pope to jog on and to stuff his contract. TOMAK holds no grudge because of the fact that Father and Master of All the Arts changed his mind after being offered with another two bags of money. For TOMAK, it’s enough that he stood up for himself and his art, and that is the attitude he seeks in young artists. But he just can’t seem to find it, and he became certain that what art scene needs to perk up a bit, is a whole new generation of artists – even better, the army of artists that will unmercifully amputate design from art, bringing it to its original purpose and duty, and that’s definitely not just to shock and now and then shake the surface. This philosophy is what TOMAK bases his art on. As he said: I do art to do things against these pretty things.

The busts he made of himself serve him for his sculptural work

TOMAK - Malpractice, 2015
TOMAK – Malpractice, 2015

TOMAK’s Artistic Crusade and Books as his Artistic Cronicles

In his crusade, TOMAK creates in a wide range of media: sculpture, collage, painting, and drawing. The writing he adds to it is crucial to understand the message he is trying to send. As the text usually describes what TOMAK is going through in that specific phase of his life – both artistic and personal, the reading in his work is convenient for the book, so TOMAK published quite a few. When he heard that Daniel Richter prefers to read books and listen to music than to sully his hands by painting, TOMAK immediately recommended him to read some right books, like his for example. This artist is very agile in publishing books, as he sees it as some kind of the artistic creations’ chronicle. The writing in TOMAK’s work can be traced back to the impact the Gerhard Rühm’s Vienna Group had on him, their text-based work with added drawings lingered in this artist’s mind for so long, that he finally found the way to incorporate it into his creations. Almost all of TOMAK’s work is planted in some real, existing image. For example, the busts he made of himself serve him for his sculptural work. So in fact, when he was burning one of its heads, or when he cut another one into pieces, he was actually doing it all to himself, his image. And while transforming his figure in so many ways, by caricaturing it – he was actually creating a more aesthetic approach to the very subject he examined.

Gerhard Rühm’s Vienna Group inspired him to incorporate writing into his art

TOMAK - Alte Schule
TOMAK – Alte Schule


TOMAK is like two faced god Janus when it comes to his graphics and paintings – while the first ones are mostly done in somewhat frenzied-driven approach, expressing his pure furor directly in the content – his paintings seem to tell a quite different story. The viewer can relate to the artist’s feeling of freedom and serenity. Just like after the storm, when sea is almost unnaturally calm and the air is emitting nothing but silence – TOMAK’s drawing is the storm and when its compressed information explodes, it releases the content to the far-reaching canvas.

One of TOMAK’s numerous project is the one that bears the invented word for a title: ANTIST. This project is done in a collaboration with Austrian artist Lukas Pusch. The base of a project is a specific philosophy that this word stands for (ANTISTic and not ARTISTic) and a center of it is a magazine THE ANTIST, produced and published by the artistic duo. Some of the contributors to the first issue were Ines Doujak and many underground artists from Berlin and Russia. Of course, TOMAK also wrote for the magazine and Lukas is editor-in-chief.

TOMAK is like two faced god Janus when it comes to his graphics and paintings

TOMAK - Atlas 1, 2 and 3
TOMAK – Atlas 1, 2 and 3

Artistic torts vs. TOMAK’s Malpractice

TOMAK is already well known as a bad boy of the Austrian art scene, but his fame precedes him worldwide. The projects like Malpractice from 2015. made possible for him to spread the work, and furthermore – to spread his visionary ideology. Hopefully, he will be heard. And seen. Until then, his attitude won’t change. TOMAK still claims that he can’t afford to buy art as he is saving up for an Aston Martin. Obviously, first thing comes first – and that says a lot about the brave new art world.

TOMAK lives and works in Vienna.

This artist is represented by LisaBird Contemporary.

Featured image: portrait of TOMAK
All images copyright of the artist


Year Exhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015MALPRACTICELISABIRD Contemporary, ViennaSolo
2015Der AntistBox Union Favoriten, ViennaSolo
2015TOMAK UND DIE WALDORF ASTORIASRudolf Steiner Schule Mauer, ViennaSolo
2015MALPRACTICEGerberhaus, FehringSolo
2015I.H.S.Volksbanken AG, ViennaSolo
2014JETZT WIRD’S BUNTLISABIRD Contemporary, ViennaSolo
2014BATMAN vs. TOMAKRudolf Budja Galerie, SalzburgSolo
2014FUTOMAKIYoshi’s Contemporary Art Gallery, ViennaSolo
2014DIE SCHÜRZEDie Presse Shop, ViennaSolo
2013Salon DevilleContemp, ViennaSolo
2013Posterboy of AntikunstCserni, ViennaSolo
2013Middle Gate Geel 13 HalleGroup
2013Art Austria, TOMAK/Günter BrusLeopold Museum, ViennaGroup
2012NUBRO, TOMAK/KollerGalerie Heike Curtze, ViennaSolo
2012PHANTÔMAKKuppelsaal University of Technology, ViennaSolo
2012ART WYNWOODMiamiGroup
2012BARRIEREFREIHEIT IM KOPFAnker Brot Fabrik, ViennaGroup
2012THE MARKED SELF. Between Annihilation and MasqueradeBruseum, Landesmuseum Joanneum GrazGroup
2012ART MIAMIMiamiGroup
2012Fluxus, eine Ausstellung als PerformanceVienna Contemporary/Mitten in Favoriten, ViennaGroup
2012Film und Videotage Performativität des WiderstandsLISABIRD Contemporary, ViennaGroup
2012Frauen, Liebe und Leben. Die Sammlung KlöckerLehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, GermanyGroup
2012Contemporary IIIAlbertina, ViennaGroup
2011AUTOMAKGalerie Heike Curtze, SalzburgSolo
2011NUBRO, TOMAK/KollerKünstlerhaus, SalzburgSolo
201010 Jahre Freispruch, Schwere Sachbeschädigungpropaganda, ViennaSolo
2010The Ear Problem / No ProblemCast Your Art, ViennaSolo
2010Ainted IcturesGalerie Heike Curtze, SalzburgSolo
2010TOMAK over SalzburgMuseum der Moderne, Rupertinum, SalzburgSolo
2010TOMAK over SalzburgKunsthalle Wien, projekt space, ViennaSolo
2010Ich ist ein andererLandesmuseum Niederösterreich, St.PöltenGroup
2009White RussianKunsthalle Wien, projekt space, ViennaSolo
2009TOMAK over GermanyGalerie Heike Curtze, BerlinSolo
2009ScheiteltwistKunsthalle Wien, project space, ViennaSolo
2009art AlbertinaAlbertina, ViennaGroup
2009Lebt und arbeitet in Wien III, Stars in a Plastic BagKunsthalle Wien, ViennaGroup
2009Evolution Remixed sound:frame festivalKünstlerhaus, ViennaGroup
2008Ich ziehe in den KriegSalesianergasse, ViennaSolo
2008Tittenfisch MetropolischKunsthalle Wien, project space, ViennaSolo
200810 Jahre TOMAKGalerie Heike Curtze, ViennaSolo
2008TOMAK over SalzburgGalerie Heike Curtze, SalzburgSolo
2008ProtestKunsthalle Wien, project space, ViennaSolo
2008X mas Bang Bang /TOMAK + ZUREKJuwelier Neuner, ViennaSolo
2008Convoy, Trucks & Rock ‘n’ Roll / TOMAK + ZUREKDreiraumtheater, ViennaSolo
2008Quartett, TOMAK + ZUREK Galerie Heike Curtze, SalzburgSolo
2008AJAX zum Beispiel zum Beispiel, TOMAK + ZUREKGalerie Heike Curtze, BerlinSolo
2008Drei Groschen für ein Halleluja, TOMAK + ZUREKMuseum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, ViennaSolo
2008BlitzkriegZimmermanngasse, ViennaSolo
2006Ich habe Pimmel gesagt, TOMAK + ZUREKGalerie Heike Curtze, ViennaSolo
2006UFOKunsthalle Wien, project space, ViennaSolo
200550Sternhofweg, SalzburgSolo
2005GesualdoKunsthalle Wien, project space, ViennaSolo
2005Weil Heill TOMAK + ZUREKArtware lounge, ViennaSolo
2005Die Augen des FleischesCabaret Renz, ViennaSolo
2004TOMAK im MundwerkHotel Hauser, St. PöltenSolo
2004TOMAK vs.Thürntal Castle, Lower AustriaSolo
2004GesualdoClub Vivendi, ViennaSolo
2004Zwischen schwarzen Brüsten TOMAK + ZUREKKunsthalle Wien, ViennaSolo
2004Hamletmaschine TOMAK + ZUREKMuseum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (Gefechtsturm), ViennaSolo
2004Hamletmaschine, TOMAK + ZUREKGalerie 14/1, StuttgartSolo
2003Hitlername: MädchenParis Bar, BerlinSolo
2003Hitlername: MädchenCafe Engländer, ViennaSolo
2003Veränderte SichtweisenJetzendorf Castle, ViennaSolo
2003KunstverbrennerSt. Veit/Gölsen, Lower AustriaSolo
2002Werbung ist keine KunstAgency Wagner Steinperl, St. PöltenSolo
2002TOMAK SuburbanGalerie Kunst 21, ViennaSolo
2002Artfair KremsDominikanerkirche, KremsGroup
2001Freizeitrevue II2. NÖ Kulturtag, St. PöltenSolo
2001Freizeitrevue IStadtmuseum, St. PöltenSolo
2001TOMAK macht blauNussdorf, Lower AustriaSolo
2001Prozess V.2 Hözl & Michalek, ViennaSolo
2001U HaftEgon Schiele Museum Neulengbach, Lower AustriaSolo
2001TOMAK malt ausPalais Palffy, ViennaSolo
2000TOMAK baut AtterseeSt. Veit/Gölsen, Lower AustriaSolo
2000Mackie Messer hat ein Messer…Heiligenkreuzerhof, ViennaSolo
2000Prozeß V+IIIStadtmuseum, St. PöltenSolo
2000Natura MorteNÖ Dokumentationszentrum für Moderne Kunst, St. PöltenGroup
1999Neo AnthropophagiGalerie Winter, ViennaSolo
1999Wiener TraumpfadHeldenplatz, ViennaGroup
1998Holländisches RückritualAustrian Chamber of Trade, ViennaSolo
1998Ambient MophoTraisenpavillion, St. PöltenSolo
1998Junge GötterRadio Kulturhaus, ViennaGroup
1997Wien MaskenSammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg, Lower AustriaGroup
1996AphroditeHeiligenkreuzerhof, ViennaGroup
1996Reigen, ein FriesPalais Fanto, ViennaGroup