Julie Torres, My 12 Hours With Austin Thomas (Acrylic on 55 Sheets of 9 x 12 Inch Paper, 2011) & Another 12 Hours With Austin (Acrylic on 3 sheets of 38 x 48 Inch Paper, 2011)
Every schoolkid knows that painting can be fun. Julie Torres (b. 1971) does not let us forget it. This Brooklyn-based artist is an evangelist for the radiant line and the colorful schmear. Much of her work is the result of marathon studio sessions that are part performance and part product. By painting a wall of works in a single day, often in the company of other artists, she tweaks what an abstract artist is supposed to be. Rather than labored, secretive and solitary, her work is ad hoc, transparent and communal.
Taller Boricua, a nonprofit gallery in the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center in Spanish Harlem, captures this exuberance. The show also demonstrates how New York’s alternative arts scene now includes Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and northern Manhattan. Here, Ms. Torres carries her improvisational style to the carefree placement of work. Paintings of bright shapes and bold colors bend around corners, appear at ceiling height and floor level, and on two doors hidden in the gallery. Mounted with pushpins, these works on paper in acrylic, gouache and watercolor are all left unframed.
Not everything performs at grade level. A few too many rainbows are scattered about. But underlying the apparent simplicity is smart paint handling. Ms. Torres’s most resonant work is “My 12 Hours With Austin Thomas” (2011). More than 8 feet tall, composed of 55 individual paper sheets, this is abstract art in mural form. The painting has a message, and the message is to paint.
Julie Torres, My 15 Hours With Geddes Levenson, Acrylic on 42 Sheets of 9 x 12 Paper, 2011
Julie Torres will next show at Storefront Bushwick, opening July 6
Julie Torres, Assorted Paintings and Drawings. Gouache, Acrylic, Watercolor on Paper and Sketchbooks, 2011- 2012