Tom Torluemke // Jeriah Hildwine

Tom Torluemke // Jeriah Hildwine

Gallery Y: Tom Torluemke: Ring Around The Rosie

Gallery X: Jeriah Hildwine: Living Dead Girls

April 27 – June 15, 2012

Opening Reception: Friday, April 27, 2012, 6-9pm

Linda Warren Projects is proud to announce the opening of two first time solo exhibitions at the gallery – multidisciplinary artist Tom Torluemke’s “Ring Around the Rosie”, in Gallery Y and O, and the representational, realist, figurer painter Jeriah Hildwine’s “Living Dead Girls” in Gallery X. In these wildly fantastical shows, both artists push the boundaries of their imaginations, mediums, and skills, to a dizzying breadth and depth. Ascribing their influences to both the personal and cultural, they flirt with a gamut of emotions and ideas and employ fully intended mechanisms to engage the viewer in an extraordinarily powerful visual experience. Full of shock and awe, humor and folly, passion and violence, sex, love, beauty, ugliness, hope and despair – their underlying stories, whether based in reality or merely in fantasy, expound on universals that relate to us all.

Tom Torluemke, Ring Around the Rosie 2011, acrylic oncanvas, 76" x 116 5/8

Tom Torluemke, Ring Around the Rosie
2011, acrylic oncanvas, 76″ x 116 5/8

Torluemke, a true art savant, insanely prolific and versatile, breathes creative life into every breathing moment of his existence and moves masterfully, like a whirling dervish, from medium to medium and style to style. From representation, to abstraction, to narration and political cartooning; from painting to paper cutouts; from collage to sculpture in all forms and materials, Torluemke fearlessly and viscerally responds to his every mood and instinct with an offering of art. Some works are autobiographical, while others more relate to the sheer horror and absurdities of the contemporaneous world around us. Some are a bit of both, and others, a celebration of form, beauty and material.

In the large-scale painting, titled like the show, Ring Around the Rosie, and possibly the shows most important work, Torluemke, recreates through a series of illustrative vignettes, the story of his life. As Kevin Freitas writes in the essay for the exhibition catalog:

“…his highlighting of the past – is a way of dealing with, repairing and letting go of it. He is not so much shaped by a darker past as he is blessed to have the opportunity to control and decide his present fate and future. Surrounded by those individuals who love and preach hope and an artistic spirit that knows no boundaries, his strength lies in their combined unity. The quest to find resolution or closure (emotionally) by working through his paintings has as much to do with the technique and ‘problems’ (formal or otherwise) intrinsically tied to its process as it does to the complexity of one’s life, the choices we make, their consequences (for there is always one) and the way we conduct ourselves in the presence of others. To kill, shoot, maim or hurt someone shouldn’t be an option… He understands clearly we might all be original sinners and points this out when necessary with just the right amount of appui. I believe it’s all about keeping his soul safe from harm.”

Amongst the plentitude of Torluemke work that will be on display in two galleries, one of the many gems in this exhibit, Dressed to Kill, a dazzling 8′ x 16′, inlaid paper collage made of patterns painted in acrylic on paper, will take center stage. Like other collage works such as The Bodies Pile Up and I Was Shocked at the Jumpers, “a sublime collage, perhaps even an artistic tip-of-the-hat to James Rosenquist’s infamous ‘F-111′ painting or to some of Ruth Adler Schnee’s textile pieces – it is difficult not to detect the horror and heartache in Torluemke’s heart” (Freitas). Poetic, poignant, and glazed over with a subversive layer of pop-sweetness, these works speak to the tragedy of war, of 911 and the loss of innocence.

Works such as the very recent carved wood and seminal sculptures like Forever is Impossible and Saint Bernard and the masterful paper sculptures such as Samson and Marie Antoinette, speak of iconic individuality, freedom, sacrifice, endurance, survival and salvation as well the courage and resolve to stay strong through the vicissitudes of life. Wherever one stands and wherever one falls, is implied throughout Ring Around the Rosie and it is quite clear that redemption for Torluemke is within his art – it is “sacred, a total immersion, it is a mikveh of sorts. It allows him to rise anew and be reborn against another day. Ritual leads to belief, which leads to faith, which eventually leads to creativity and creation – done over and over. This is why Tom’s work has remained fresh all these years” (Freitas).

In “Living Dead Girls,” a title shared with a Rob Zombie song and a San Francisco-based Zombie burlesque troupe, Jeriah Hildwine presents a body of work, created over the period of 5 years, that emanates from a slew of pop cultural influences generally rooted in the macabre. Figures are cribbed from sources ranging from Hildwine’s friends to the zombie-themed adult film Porn of the Dead, from Beetlejuice to Norman Rockwell. So many artists struggle to answer the question, “What is this painting about?” For the works in this series, the answer is refreshingly simple: “Goth girls fighting zombies.”

In his book The Philosophy of Horror, author Noel Carroll postulated that the proliferation of horror films from the 1960s to the present are a response to the series of disillusionments that have shaken American society since the middle of the 20th Century. The “recurrent psychic demoralization of the fictional victims left dumbfounded by horrific monsters” functioned as an analogue for “the sense of paralysis, engendered not only by massive historical shocks, but by an unrelenting inability to come to terms practically with situations, which persistently seem inconceivable and unbelievable.”

Hildwine’s work is directly influenced by the imagery not only of horror films, but also fantasy films, role-playing and video games, graphic novels and RPG players’ handbooks, especially of the late 80’s to mid 90’s. His paintings embody the masculine, the fantastic, and the horrific as they appear not only in the cliché of Hollywood, but also in the fathoms of classic storytelling. Drawing on the type of popular culture sources with which he grew up, he turns the preoccupations of male adolescence into absurdist dark comedy. Conflating the imagery of popular illustration with scenes from horror cinema and an idealized reimagining of teenage subculture yields a virile, violent, erotic wonderland populated with sexy, aggressive women and supernatural monsters.

Several of the most recent pieces in “Living Dead Girls” extend the verisimilitude of realistic painting into three dimensions, featuring elements of assemblage. Like the so-bad-its-good special effects of a low-budget horror film, these elements disgust and amuse even as they violate the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. Rubber Halloween prostheses, rabbit fur, bats, clumps of real and synthetic human hair and brass cartridge casings acknowledge the artifice of painting even as they draw the viewer into the world of the picture. Like the girl with the three boobs from Total Recall, even though we know that third boob is papier-mâché, it’s still pretty hot.

Tom Torluemke is a recipient of the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship and has been awarded over 20 large scale public art commissions throughout the Midwest including, the Indianapolis International Airport, Indianapolis Marion County Central Library, Purdue University Calumet and many towns and municipalities. He has an extensive exhibition record with over 130 exhibitions. Solo and group exhibition highlights include: “After Glow” at The Chicago Cultural Center; “The Inland See: Contemporary Art Around Lake Michigan,” curated by James Yood; “Critic’s Choice” at Jan Cicero Gallery in Chicago; “In the Company of Strangers” at the Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso, Indiana; “Bounce” at the South Bend Regional Museum; and the “In Indiana” series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. His work is part of over 100 public and private collections across the U.S.

Jeriah Hildwine received his MFA in 2007 from the Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and his BA in 2002 from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. He lives and works in Chicago, along with his wife, Stephanie Burke, and their ball python snake.