Magazine article Artforum International

John Torreano: Feature, Inc

Magazine article Artforum International

John Torreano: Feature, Inc

Article excerpt

If one was to fully appreciate John Torreano's recent exhibition "Scapes," it helped to be familiar with the ancient Greek myth of Orion, the hunter, who was immortalized as a constellation by Artemis (sister of Apollo and the object of Orion's love) after she killed him accidentally. The tragic story informs Orion's Curtain (all works 2007), the show's keynote work. A spray painting made directly on the gallery's foyer wall, Orion's Curtain was a swirling field of marks inset with wooden balls of various sizes marking the imagined positions of stars, and darkened by touches of charcoal signaling the texture of the sky. In this deceptively decorative manner, the interior of Feature, Inc. was transformed into a luminous celestial realm and the viewer into a heavenly body set adrift within it. These works are thus at once skyscapes and (to use Gerard Manley Hopkins's term) "inscapes"--that is, they suggest the ecstatic convergence of outer and inner worlds.

Torreano's cosmic emphasis was clearer still in the six moody gestural paintings hung in the gallery proper. Three of these are modest watercolors on paper, enhanced with touches of acrylic and charcoal, and three are much larger paintings, their surfaces a fusion of black gesso, acrylic, and spray paint, inset with wooden balls and glass and plastic "gems." The mix of materials is crucial to the pictures' lush resonance. (Larger scale and range of media notwithstanding, they are also reminiscent of Gustave Moreau's introverted sketches.) All the large works are partitioned into grids, and this touch of geometrical severity in what are otherwise distinctly organic works allows one to zero in on segments of the scene as though viewing them through a sharply focused telescope. …

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