Posted by Sandy Zhang
John Torreano, artist and professor of studio art at New York University, delivered the annual Malloy Visiting Artist lecture on Tuesday, March 22, in Gannett Auditorium.
Introduced by Kate Levitt, chair of the studio art department, Torreano started his lecture by acknowledging his role in the college's art community in the past few years.
Past exhibits featured at the Tang Teaching Museum, including the recent "Jewel Thief," and "A Very Liquid Heaven," that was shown in 2004, have featured Torreano's work.
His lecture, which lasted about an hour, was a showcase and commentary on his works from the past four decades and his more recent works.
Torreano works with a wide range of media including paint, photography, sculpture, installation, film and even theatrical performances.
Torreano showed works in groups which were organized by common subject matter. These topics included: diamonds, gems, cubes, spheres encased with small particles, paintings with dots and photographs of dying factories.
Torreano explained that although he primarily identifies himself as a painter, he is often known more for his sculptures and installations.
Despite this, his approach to his work is heavily grounded in a painter's perspective. "At the end of the day I always see myself as coming from a painterly vision," Torreano said.
At the same time, the other, differing forms he works with are inherently connected with each other. "I was making paintings that were simultaneously paintings and sculptures and installations," Torreano said.
One prominent feature of his paintings is his use of dots, which Torreano has been working with since 1968. He explained how he was intrigued by the ways dots alter spatial relationships, and the different ways viewers perceive relationships on a plane when dots are present.
Torreano also showcased a large body of sculptures of gems, which varied drastically in size and style. In one work, Torreano placed gems on a physical hill, which he saw as creating a larger painting in itself.
He explained that the reflections of the viewer in the gems would serve as a reminder that the particular moment in time that they would experience is unique to them. The moment cannot be reproduced, and no one will ever have the same experience.
Torreano explained that his work with gems questions value. He explained how he liked exploring the idea that diamonds and gems often carry a lot of meaning for viewers, and addressed whether dramatic changes in scale or color change these meanings.
"There is something about decay that is simultaneously attached to aesthetic value," Torreano said about a series of photographs that depict the fading factories of his hometown in Flint, Michigan.
"I like to mess with boundaries of ideas in the works, even though I don't necessarily do it on purpose," Torreano said.