BMOCA brings cosmic paintings to Boulder in latest exhibit

New York City-based artist John Torreano bring a universe-expansion to board

By Tatyana Sharpton Sep 16 2020

After nearly three months of Covid-spawned closure and a reopening at the end of June, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) has debuted a new exhibition, featuring of works by NYC-based artist John Torreano.

“Painting From the Universe,” pushed back from summer into fall, features a magnitude of large scale paintings on plywood merging on the line of sculpture and a set of smaller works, including some framed, watercolor studies for the large works in the main gallery. The exhibit will run until January 17, 2021.

“In some ways, he challenges the notion of painting, which is typically a flat image,” says BMoCA’s executive director and chief curator David Dadone of artist John Torreano, who calls his sculptural pieces paintings. “And he’s here, using the word painting to an object that is definitely three dimensional.”

BMoCA’s main gallery. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.
David Dadone

Using images pulled from the Hubble Space Telescope, which captures objects by sensing heat, as well as a range of materials in addition to paint, including wooden balls and acrylic gems, John creates his universes.

The large-scale paintings, composed of groupings of plywood panels — some as large nine by 13.5 feet, depict scenes from space in a way that blends realism with abstraction. Each piece has its own autonomous energy and offers a different feeling, from soft ethereal skies to a rambunctious, chaotic energy; open space to a twinkling black hole.

“Swarm.” John’s depiction of space ranges from expressive paintings to a reductive sculptural technique, cutting into the layers of the plywood to reveal the grains’ grid-like structure and working into these layers with three-dimensional objects and paint. Image: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

The gems, set in the cut-out layers of plywood, create a constant state of flux as light twinkles and reflects. It almost feels like each piece has its own gravitational pull, a completely different vortex from the next in color, composition, stroke and energy.

Close-ups of Edge. Images: Tatyana Sharpton.

David also told us that the museum, which normally curates three exhibitions a year, did not have to cancel any of its upcoming shows, but just shifted them back a season.

Header Image: Cropping of Dark Matters C’sC. Image: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.