Another remarkable new work by Tomaselli, 2005’s Organism, shows a man with transparent skin plunging headless into a crystal chaos of stars, spiderwebs, and fractured mandalas. The piece seems to literally embody the difficult human transition between meat and mental ecstasy, but its full resonance only becomes clear when compared to the similarly semitransparent bodies in the work of Alex Grey, another Brooklyn artist and one of the most dominant painters in the largely marginalized world of contemporary psychedelic art. Though Grey’s art graces rave fliers and New Age calendars, he is no naïf—the declarative intensity of his strongest paintings depends in part on his sly appropriation of textbook medical imagery, whose hyperreal rhetoric paradoxically lends an air of actuality to his visionary bodies. But Grey is too much of a mystic literalist for his work to ever make it to the walls of MoCA; transcendence, even if it is just a trick of immanence, is still taboo. Whereas Grey’s transformed figures confidently ascend into rainbow mind-lattices, Tomaselli’s organism plunges into the fractured rag-and-bone shop of the head, delivering the more assimilable message that ecstasy is rarely far from the abject.

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