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The Cosmic Universes of Alicia H. Torres

An artist projects the journey of his soul through a frame of colors, forms and ideas

Alicia H. Torres

By Milagros Bello

Alicia H. Torres is already rooted in the art field. Originally from Colombia, she has developed a long artistic career in Miami and abroad. From figuration to abstractionism, drawing to painting, and bidimensional to tridimensional, this artist has developed a vast array of creative methods that not only include the traditional painting on canvas but a mixed-media approach as well.

Alicia H. Torres, Ellipse 5, 2012, mixed media on canvas, 22” x 30.”All images are courtesy of the artist.

Alicia H. Torres, Ellipse 5, 2012, mixed media on canvas, 22” x 30.”All images are courtesy of the artist.

The figurative works depict women in different discourses and references. Questioning the feminine condition in its upheaval and disturbance, Torres proposes disruptive and upsetting feminine images, which reflect on women’s suffering and displacement. The Crying Woman shows a turbulent and broken outline of a sad woman’s face on shiny dark yellows. The dominant blues of different hues prevail amid the cold atmosphere, which contributes to the pathos of the scene. The gestural brushstrokes and the profuse drippings increase the dramatic impact, radically disjointing the already frenzied space.

Another work, Speak No Evil, portrays a woman with a lock in place of her mouth, her teeth suggesting aggression. She has no left eye, and in its place, green tears fall and dissolve. Her right eye is irregularly outlined, giving it an angry, desperate expression that reflects her profound inner unrest. The wild, contrasting colors recall a Fauvist emotional approach to painting in which colors are represented and crystallized to suggest critical times and the dissolution of utopias.

Alicia H. Torres, The Crying Woman, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 48”x36.”

Alicia H. Torres, The Crying Woman, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 48”x36.”

Another, The House in the Air, presents a woman in dismay surrounded by strange entities as disrupted elements in complete disarray. The dominant yellow palette intensifies the unsettled sight, as Torres completes the portrayal of the deep turmoil of being a woman. In the work Not Even with a Rose Petal, a beaten woman is shown disfigured and with her right eye damaged, a scene based on a real-life story in Colombia but also a reference to the violence women throughout Latin America face.

Women in Yellow, From “Exotic Boxes” series, photo and mixed media, 18” x 16.5.”

Alicia H. Torres, Women in Yellow, From “Exotic Boxes” series, photo and mixed media, 18” x 16.5.”

In her Exotic Boxes series, Torres inserts photographs of women’s faces in coffin-like boxes, using collage and pigments to further deface the figures. In Woman in Yellow, a face is violently covered with strong pigments yet spotlighting sad eyes and contorted red lips. In The Eye (2012), a black-and-white photograph shows a face in profile, with only an eye visible. In this series, Torres sets a cataclysmic approach to the fate of women.

Not Even With A Rose Petal, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 40”x30.”

Alicia H. Torres, Not Even With A Rose Petal, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 40”x30.”

But Torres’s art is also a window into abstract art, as it gives credence to the imperceptible and intangible energies of the universe. In this sense, she depicts unseen dimensions and inconspicuous worlds, offering new ways of perceiving a world in which reality is irrelevant. Abstract art is, after all, the ultimate expression of the undefinability of the cosmos. As Wassily Kandinsky said, “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with its many chords. The artist is the hand that, by touching this or that key, sets the soul vibrating automatically.”

Abstract II, 2007, mixed media on canvas, 40” x 60”. Photo: Oriol Tarridas

Alicia H. Torres, Abstract II, 2007, mixed media on canvas, 40” x 60”. Photo: Oriol Tarridas

Torres’ abstract canvases unveil invisibles aspects of the macro and micro cosmos, shining light on visual rhythms that connect to cosmic resonances. Irregular patterns and zig-zag designs reveal fantasy worlds and unreal territories. Through the use of bright pigments, the artist connects the works to lively aural echoes. The paintings present dissolving transparencies and prismatic masses of color, intersecting one another in voluptuous contours. The viewer can feel the mystical essences of the works, of which Torres says, “My abstract paintings are pure emotions posed over the canvas through shapes and hues.” Away from a geometric, starkly defined approach, they project the confines of the unnamable, in which reality and physicality have been abolished. Torres mixes up the technique of the color field, in which color becomes the subject matter and non-objective tactic that favors gesture and action. The result is a compound of dynamic forces blending outlines and diagrams over the dominant palette.

Alicia H. Torres, The Prophecy, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30.”

Alicia H. Torres, The Prophecy, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30.”

In her painting Decoding Messages, her vigorous brushstrokes generate forceful tension. Whimsical lines superimpose onto one another over atmospheric areas. Asymmetrical compositions in reds and yellows create visual surprises over the dominant blue palette. Explosive bursts of paint create dazzling orchestrations of forms and pigments in which imaginary primal figures emerge. There is a mapped territory of illusory associations in which viewers can make up their own story, perhaps discovering the shape of a face or an animal. Torres opens up to the flight of her prolific imagination and connects the invisible with the imaginary in a dreamlike scenario of fantastic entities, and viewers can project their own truths on to the canvas.

The artist is very aware of the visual power of symbolism. She uses dark or bright color to reference chaos or joy, destruction or hope. In The Prophecy, she offers an apocalyptic view, based on supposed Mayan prophecy that the world would end in December 2012. Turbulent outlines and “burned” dark colors reflect the annihilation of the Earth, its devastation and its wreckage as exorcizing out the distrustful ideas of the termination of our planet. As she said, “We cannot believe in all that it is said. We cannot be submitted to the catastrophic views of our society.”

Alicia H. Torres, Metamorphosis I, 2007, mixed media, iron and acrylic on panel. 30”x30”.

Alicia H. Torres, Metamorphosis I, 2007, mixed media, iron and acrylic on panel. 30”x30”.

In her abstract Ellipse Series (2010-2012), Torres shows a more hopeful vision of life. A powerful lyricism is illustrated by contrasting vivid colors over oval imposing elements. Outer dimensions and intangible phenomena are set here as a new perceptual field. In Ellipse 5, she superimposes a contorted oval form to serve as a kind of prehistoric animal, a sort of imaginary ancestral bison that exists over a yellow background. Another abstract series was created on metal using an oxidation process and sepia and black pigments to show the transformation of matter and its raw visual mutations. Metamorphosis I and Taurus feature odd shapes, such as two-legged, primal silhouettes emerging as primitive forms from the past. The rough finish and tarnished brown colors allude to telluric earthly essences. Torres in both series establishes primeval scenes with ancient resonances.

In addition, Torres fearlessly leaps into tridimensional assemblages in which she uses recycled materials in the manner of the Arte Povera. Rough bits and pieces of cut metal and plastics form the base for these significant new works that jump radically into a conceptual approach. Dancing With Isadora’s Rhythm is a whimsical sculptural ensemble dynamically hanging from a wall. The feminine cadences and dancing pulses allude to the iconic character of legendary dancer Isadora Duncan.

From her figurative pieces to her abstract and tri-dimensional works, Alicia H. Torres Torres executes a strong visual expression that clearly speaks out about her affirmative artistic attitude and boundless creativity.

For more information, visit www.aliciahtorres.co or email her at alhemir@aol.com.

Milagros Bello has a Ph.D in the sociology of art from La Sorbonne and has worked with a variety of cultural institutions in Florida, including the Miami Art Museum, the Jewish Museum of Florida, the Hardcore Art Contemporary Space, Arte al Día, Florida International University, American InterContinental University and Miami International University of Art & Design, among others. She is the director and chief curator of Curators Voice Art Projects in Wynwood.