Photorealism and the figure are two of the most compelling elements that draw the connoisseur to traditional art. Both are featured in the magnetic work of Bernardo Torrens, who’s recently received his first solo exhibition in the United States.
Whether it’s the sexually suggestive poses and nudity of his female models or the exquisite accuracy with which they are painted, jaws are sure to drop during Bernardo Torrens’ “Figurativo” at EVOKE Contemporary. A self-taught painter, Torrens uses both digital photography and traditional from-life models to compose his images, which typically feature empty backgrounds, bringing the viewer’s focus to his subjects. The gallery reports that, “Each painting features one of several models that are recurring in the artist’s work. Each composition is uniquely composed and intricately painted focusing solely on the personality of the model and nostalgic scenes of summer.”

Bernardo Torrens, “Melania III,” acrylic on panel, 21.25 x 45 in. (c) EVOKE Contemporary 2015

Bernardo Torrens, “Sandra V,” acrylic on panel, 23.5 x 28.5 in. (c) EVOKE Contemporary 2015

Both of these come to the fore in “Sandra in the Pool,” one of six paintings featured in the exhibition. This piece is quite exceptional, as it displays a range of colors and spatial context, elements encountered rarely in Torrens’s work. Standing at center and gazing outside the picture to the right is a topless female, waist-high in a backyard pool. The painting is immediately powerful with Torrens’s use of strong, saturated colors. Beautifully balanced are the cool blue tones of the water and tiles with the strong, warm red and tans found in the paver bricks and the figure’s skin. The upper half of the painting gives way to luminescent greens and foliage. Upon detailed investigation, Torrens’s skill is truly revealed. Individual beads and streams of water can be detected on the model’s skin, imbuing the painting with a level of detail that is photographic.

Bernardo Torrens, “Sandra in an Armchair,” acrylic on panel, 28.75 x 57.75 in. (c) EVOKE Contemporary 2015

A more archetypal example is “Summer Siesta,” a monochromatic acrylic on panel again featuring a topless model. Although rendered in black and white, the painting retains its impact and luminosity. Reclining on a one-armed, stripped couch is a model in loose pajama bottoms. The relaxed pose and subject of the painting enhance the quiet perceptiveness of the piece, which is aided by the subdued palette as well.

Bernardo Torrens, “Sandra VII,” acrylic on panel, 21.25 x 21.25 in. (c) EVOKE Contemporary 2015

Bernardo Torrens, “Summer Siesta,” acrylic on panel, 50 x 63 in. (c) EVOKE Contemporary 2015

“Figurativo” opens at EVOKE Contemporary August 28 and will be on view through September 19.
To learn more, visit EVOKE Contemporary.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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