2B – Andrés Torres
2B – Andrés Torres
2B. To be. To be or not to be: an essential question not only for Hamlet, but also for the characters portrayed in 2B pencil by Andrés Torres Rivas in the fanzine of the same name in 2019. The nihilism implicit in this approach is more alive than ever, four centuries later, in the 50 drawings in which the artist gives a face to his peculiar oddities of contemporary society.
In this exhibition at the RocioSantaCruz gallery, part of the programme of ArtsLibris Barcelona 2023 and Art Nou 2023 -Festival d’Art Emergent de Barcelona i l’Hospitalet-, Andrés Torres Rivas brings to life an individual imaginary full of questions about the experience of life. The psychological analysis of each figure, isolated in a botanical notebook logic that aims to study those that exist only in Torres Rivas’ mind (and now in the mind of the person who thinks them), attempts to understand the essential forms and aspects of each one.
The museographic presentation of the exhibition follows a kind of nineteenth-century art gallery, from which the spectator’s gaze is directly challenged by the more than 100 signs that line the entire wall. For visual studies, Lacan’s encounter with a tin of sardines in the middle of the sea marked the evolution of contemporary art: through this anecdote we understand how the spectator’s gaze is returned by the work, a story of pure contemporaneity from which to understand the whole of the 2B series. Using metaphor as a plastic, artistic, honorary, pornographic or even humorous resource, Torres Rivas places a mirror in front of us to understand ourselves and, from there, the reality that surrounds us.
And although the artistic technique may seem old-fashioned due to the traditional use of graphite and pen as a medium, the current re-reading of the world around us starts from the subjective of the artist towards the collective of our society. In addition to graphite, Andrés Torres stands out for his use of oil or engraving – present in the exhibition – in a plastic exercise of updating contemporary art; however, drawing anchors everything, acting as a mediator between Andrés’ unique and exceptional works. In them, the cosmology of humanoids is extended by creations that place his work at the epicentre of the moment.
Starting with Untitled, a large-format oil painting that dominates the gallery space, we observe a monochrome blue that underlines the idea of the panoptic control that society exercises over our daily lives: in this work, 6 figures with seemingly lost gazes, whose round eyes seem to jump out of their orbits, look everywhere without really focusing on anything. On the other hand, in the folder Bitter Suite (completed by 9 drypoint prints), almost mythological beings, halfway between the Garden of Earthly Delights (Bosch, 1503-1515) and Tim Burton’s films, assert what is common to Andrés Torres’s work: the dissection of the actors that make up our most mundane everyday lives.
In 2B we meet characters who are vulnerable, proud, freely sexual, amused or tormented, too serious or too happy, revealing an intimate subconscious tormented by a society that often simply won’t let them be. 420 years after William Shakespeare wrote his often paraphrased To Be or Not to Be, the question is no longer whether or not to continue being, but how to survive in a postmodern world where everything has been seen and everything is to be seen; everything has been and everything is to be.
Sergio Rodríguez Beltrán, contemporary art historian
Andrés Torres Rivas (Madrid, 1991) graduated in Fine Arts from the Complutense University of Madrid and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Hochschule in Lucerne. Artist and illustrator, his artistic methodology follows traditional techniques such as watercolour, oil, engraving and graphite. The traditional experimentation of his work results in everyday scenes, set in a wide universe of his own, full of peculiar characters. Among his outstanding exhibitions are group shows in galleries in Madrid (Mad is Mad). In 2023 he presented in ArtsLibris Madrid and ArtsLibris Barcelona his fanzine 2B (2019), in which Torres gives free rein to his creativity and portrays the characteristic characters of all his work.