Gallery Y & Gallery X: Tom Torluemke, “Blind Man’s Bluff”
April 17 – June 13, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, April 17, 2015, 6-9pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, May 16, 2015, 3-5pm
Linda Warren Projects is pleased to present “Blind Man’s Bluff,” a solo exhibition by gallery artist Tom Torluemke. Over the course of his career, Torluemke has proven to be a master of any medium to which he commits himself. In his second solo exhibition with the gallery, Torluemke manifests his proficiency yet again with three new series of figurative works in various media. Through paintings mounted on paper, blind drawings and concrete sculpture, Torluemke addresses very human subject matter that is often troubling, poignant and vulnerable but with characteristic underpinnings of humor, tenderness and compassion.
Intermingling representation and abstraction, Torluemke inserts his figures into a range of surrealist narratives. From painting to painting, the emotional climate varies widely. A couple copulates in a cozy kitchen in It’s Usually A Good Idea To Bring Home Flowers; behind bars, ghostly, disembodied faces shriek at the sight of a dangling noose in Flooded Prison; a dejected, barnacled-looking man is collapsed beside a shipwreck in Marooned. From the joyful to the uncomfortable and even the horrific, Torluemke draws from all ends of life’s spectrum. Whether it’s positive or painful, Torluemke has a singular ability to elicit powerful emotional responses from his viewers.
Intuition has always played a large role in Torluemke’s practice, and “Blind Man’s Bluff” features a series of drawings created by the artist with his eyes closed. Torluemke’s blind drawings begin with a continuous line, as the artist explains, “to get at the essence of an idea without over-thinking the next movement or worrying about drawing ‘correctly.’” Then, with his eyes open, Torluemke adds shading and contrast to his automatic compositions. Like his paintings, the “blind” drawings are alternately absurd, heart wrenching and overtly sexual. But, where the paintings are layered with dense narratives, the drawings –paralleling the spontaneity of their making– capture isolated moments: a breakup, an argument, a food fight.
The fluidity and spontaneousness of the paintings and drawings are countered by the dense, stolid nature of Torluemke’s concrete sculpture. For the artist, this ubiquitous material creates a direct connection between fine art practice and everyday life. Rooted within the context of the real world, Torluemke’s works are alternately confrontational and uplifting. Tie The Knot features a pair of bodiless heads, straining against the knot of hair that binds them together. In Self Examination, a nude figure holds his own detached head at arm’s length in order to observe his own body. Defying the bulk and weightiness of the material, these works are particularly animated and tactile. Here, Torluemke’s symbolic, humanistic subject matter is combined with the inherent permanence of his material, resulting in works that are both emotive and iconic.
Born and raised in Chicago, Tom Torluemke’s practice spans over 30 years and includes works in painting, drawing, sculpture and installations in a variety of mediums. Recent solo and group exhibition highlights include: “Fearsome Fable – Tolerable Truth” at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; “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; “Present” at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; “In the Company of Strangers” at the Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso, Indiana; “Bounce” at the South Bend Regional Museum of Art in South Bend, Indiana; “Peace in the Arts” Baíhai International Peace Conference in San Francisco; “The Alabama Watercolor Society Exhibition” at the Birmingham Museum of Art; and the “In Indiana” series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In 2013, he was a featured speaker at TEDx PurdueU at Purdue University. In 2008, he was a winner of the Great Ideas Competition of the Arts Council of Indianapolis with his project “Light The Way” completed in December 2008 and named a recipient of the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship (Central Indiana Community Foundation) for the period of April 2007 – April 2008. In addition, Torluemke has created over 20 public art commissions throughout the Midwest.