Fractured Shadows – an Interview With Emanuel Torres


On November 5, 2020, LatchKey Gallery opened its doors to art patrons who are eager to experience the Puerto Rico-born and based artist Emanuel Torres’ newest exhibition: “Sombras Fracturadas | Fractured Shadows.”

The NYC show features nine new paintings from Torres. All of these paintings were created during the spring and summer of this year while he, like most of the world, was in quarantine. 

Emanuel Torres’ art explores the fractured relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. These paintings, characterized by unique compositions of shape and color, are fascinating examples of the techniques of surrealism and abstract expressionism.

“Hendidura de la Sombra” – Emanuel Torres

Visitors to the art gallery will notice that the color blue shows up in Torres’ work again and again. According to LatchKey Gallery, this is a hue that has historically been perceived as being “beyond dimension.”

Torres also builds out his canvases with heavy markings and curved oval shapes. These shapes are meant to represent the psychological effects the colonizing nation (the United States) has on the colonized and “othered” nation (Puerto Rico).

“Hueco-Puente Azul” – Emanuel Torres

The center of this exhibition is the 7-foot by 8-foot painting, “
Mar de Sombra.” This painting stands out with a series of shapes and playful brushwork that draw the eye to the center and then burst outward, emulating a breakthrough of sorts.

“Mar de Sombra” – Emanuel Torres

Emanuel Torres is a renowned Puerto Rican artist. He was awarded the coveted Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2018. His work has been exhibited at several prestigious museums, including the Museum of Art and Design and Miramar.

Torres is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Here, he received a BA in theater and philosophy. He went on to continue his studies in video art, installation, and performance at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey.

This exhibition runs through December 19, 2020, at LatchKey Gallery, which is located at 173 Henry Street in New York, NY. Those who want to learn more about the exhibition can contact the gallery online.

Interview With the Artist

Artist Emanuel Torres

– “Sombras Fracturadas | Fractured Shadows” exhibition, currently running at LatchKey Gallery in NYC, is the latest art project you have worked on. What is this show about?

I am always working on new paintings, drawings, etc. This show is an evolution and a convolution of what I was doing before the pandemic. It is a deep reflection on forms and shapes as a structure to talk about other things. Things like relations in all senses, from fiscal relations to political relations. To me, this body of work shows an internal storm of freedom while being alone.

– The show explores the relationship between Puerto Rico, your home country, and the United States. How would you describe this relationship?

Yes, this show and everything I do as an artist (poetry, music, etc.) deal with that topic. For me, art is always a way of seeing and understanding reality and politics. The relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States is a very complex one and is, in legal terms, a colonial relationship. That relationship is more than a matter of paper and stuff; it has a deep impact on our everyday life as a society because every colonial relationship creates a psychological way of being, some sort of deformation. Trying to understand what is around and creating something out of it. In this case, painting is a way of freedom, through automatism based on body shapes and objects shapes that build themselves in the painting as a poem of forms that in some way articulates what is happening around me.

– What elements contributed to the exhibition’s aesthetic and mood?

I would say the use of lines, the movement in the use of shapes. For me this exhibition is some kind of diary of quarantine. It is a fast lullaby to say what was on my mind in the last few months.

– “Sombras Fracturadas | Fractured Shadows” culminates with the colossal “Mar de Sombra” at its center. What makes this particular artwork so unique?

To me, an artist is always working from a mystical and psychological drive to process what is happening around them. Being an artist in Puerto Rico and working from the island is not an easy thing. The financial instability and the social turmoil we’ve been through in recent years have created a feeling of uncertainty, particularly among young people. With that in mind, I needed to do a painting that would tie up the layers of emotional and physical experiences that I have carried in recent years. A painting that could load my recent personal story of uncertainties and successes, of lights and shadows, and that is why I titled it “Mar de Sombras” or “Sea of Shadows.” Because of its size and shape, you feel that you can dive into and swim – immerse yourself.

– Is there a specific message that you want people to perceive with the “Sombras Fracturadas | Fractured Shadows” exhibition?

There are many messages that I want people to get from the show. But for me, the most important is that there are many great Puertorican painters and artists in general living and working on the island who have been omitted from museums and history books.

– Where do you usually draw your inspiration from?

Poetry, conversations, bodies, objects really from everywhere.

– Can you give a little bit of insight into the process of making your works?

It always starts with a charcoal drawing and color stain, then I start with the painting and then keep sometimes going for a few hours, sometimes for a few weeks or even months until I found something relevant that says something to me.

– You graduated with a BA in theater and philosophy and then continued your studies in video art, installation and performance. How does your background influence your work?

All arts are connected, and philosophy is the base of all understanding and questioning processes. Painting is very much like philosophy. Painting is like having a conversation that, since you start, you know it will be infinite, but you dare to have it because you want to learn something new.

– How is being an artist during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It has been strange in all senses, something like the opposite of normal life. Now you have too much time for yourself alone, and you urge for some interruption. We all need socialization as human beings, and this pandemic is a total antisocial situation.

– If you could describe the overall style of your work, what would that description be?

My work is some kind of convulsing reaction to the “everyday poetry” I see from my subjectivity expressed through painting.