Tobias Tovera (Oakland, CA) is a sculptor by trade-- earning a BFA in the practice at California College of the Arts; he has studied with the mfa program at San Francisco Arts' Institute. tovera's current series is a study in alchemy in the truest sense of the word: turing "base" materials into "noble" materials. 

Celite • 48 x 48 • mineral on panel

Celite • 48 x 48 • mineral on panel

Sourcing mineralized salt from the flats of the South Bay; water from the San Francisco Bay and local rivers-- Tovera transmutes these humble materials into truly unique art through experimental, self-taught alchemy. 

Biolith • 48 X 48 • mineral on panel

Writes local arts critic Bill Sasser for Art Voices Magazine:

"Poured horizontally in multiple layers on wood panels coated with iron oxide, chemical interactions between various elements spontaneously create his colors through oxidation.  Variable rates of evaporation and different patterns of crystallization and oxidation create layered graduations of texture, color, and space. A single painting may take six months to complete, becoming a topography of the passage of time. "

The resultant works are evocative of the natural. Each color is a result of a chemical reaction with the solvant, salt, or chemical with the iron; enhanced through the addition of fire. 

Efflux • 60 X 60 • mineral on panel

Tovera's artistic practice further extends into the curatorial, founding the ark project's artist-in-residence program.
a collaboration with artist in residence Ari Rudenko, tobias tovera, and denise susanne townsend opens this friday, june 1.

Ari Rudenko + Tobias Tovera + Denise Susanne Townsend

Thursday, June 1st to June 8th


Artist Tobias Tovera in his studio. Image courtesy of Studio Journal Knock.

Artist Tobias Tovera in his studio. Image courtesy of Studio Journal Knock.

Tobias Tovera is an American visual artist recognized for his work in painting and the sensory surrounds of his multi-media installations. Tovera was born in Sacramento, California and studied at the California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute.

His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States and Europe, and is part of numerous private, public, and corporate collections. Using the concept of time as a foundation, Tovera’s studio practice explores energy systems, finding new dimensions in his materials as they metamorphose from one form to the next.

The conception of his work was inspired by alchemy, medicine, and the primordial formations of living matter. From the chemistry of water reacting with minerals to a magic that reaches beyond science, Tovera’s work examines opposing elements such as nature and artifice, chaos and order, to reveal how they interact, transform, or propel each other.

Tovera states, “I want my art to spark connection with nature and through process and alchemy, create a visual form that liberates both an intimate as well as an unknown aspect of the cosmos.” During the course of his career Tovera has developed two bodies of work in painting and a series of multi-media installations.

His new work investigates the interplay between his paintings and his installations and how they inform each other. Tobias lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and is the founder of the Ark Project, an international artist residency program. He has been awarded with residencies at the Performance Art Institute, Root Division, and Local Language Art and has been published in Studio Journal Knock, Studio Visit, and Art Voices Magazine.   

'We expect art to give us a sense of connection to the world and ourselves. We expect nature to give us the same thing. Tovera’s work, in its embrace of entropy and fluidity, its references to and imitation of the natural world, plays on this parallel set of expectations. Are his paintings nature or art? Maybe they are both.' 

-Victoria Gannon