Nesto Gallery- Ian Torney
by Louisa Moore on Friday, April 20th, 2012
Last week, Ian Torney ‘82 returned to Milton to exhibit his show “At the Horizon: Recent Paintings” in the Nesto Gallery.
Upon graduating from Milton, Mr. Torney went on to Bowdoin College, where he majored in English Literature and Visual Art. He later earned a master’s degrees at Rhode Island School of Design in 1992 and at the Art Institute of Boston in 2008. He has exhibited his work around the United States and is based in Concord, New Hampshire. Currently, he is the artist-in-residence at the Kimball Jenkins Estate and School of Art in Concord. He is also the Head of the Arts Division at St. Paul’s School, where he has worked for over twenty years.
Mr. Torney identifies himself in his artist’s statement as a “plein-air landscape painter.” He organizes much of his work into two categories: diptychs and triptychs, or two-part and three-part paintings.
While Torney’s work is inspired by the natural world, he embraces the abstraction that has become a thread in much of modern art. As Torney explains, by “experiment[ing] with a tension between realism and abstraction,” he aims “to create paintings with greater atmospheric ambiguity about the intrinsic impermanence of nature and the sublime.”
Though every painting is unique, Torney’s distinctive style is evident in all. Most of the pictures seemed very abstract, but there were two larger works that felt more realistic: Negril Triptych and View from the Top. Other larger canvases stood out as well, boasting bold blues and streaks of yellow.
Torney’s work is beautiful. Nevertheless, upon entering the gallery, it was difficult for me to see beyond the paintings’ prettiness. I began to walk in circles around the gallery, briefly looking at each picture.
After spending some time in the gallery, however, I began to appreciate Mr. Torney’s work more. At first glance, all the paintings appear to be of the sky. Drawing closer, I began to see the sea. The horizon is ambiguous – it appears to blend anything from sky and land to sky and sea.
Though there is overall uniformity, each painting is unique. Just as Torney states, the paintings reveal a tension between the abstract and the perceived reality of sky, sea, beach, and land.
The smaller works, 8” by 8” and 12” by 12”, are jewel-like and have majesty well beyond their small scale. Each painting has a three-dimensional aspect to it with the thick application of oil paint. Some, coated in varnish, shine. My favorite works were three 8” by 8” paintings that I viewed as depicting a wave breaking on a beach, but could also have been perceived as a rolling sky. The texture of the paint glistened like light on the waves.
“At the Horizon: Recent Paintings” will be open through May 15. Go see the graduate’s work today. It will be well worth the quick walk to the bottom of the Arts and Media Center!
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