This week, Dan’s Papers is happy to feature Aurelio Torres on our cover. Aurelio, grandson of the acclaimed Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia, is an East Hampton-based artist by way of Montevideo, where he lived until 1973. As a fan of marine landscapes, it’s no wonder Torres found his way to the East End after a veritable lifetime of traveling the world. It’s also no surprise he spends a lot of time outdoors painting not only ocean scenes but idyllic country scenes like the one featured this week, “Balsam Farm Stand with Pumpkins.” We reached out to Torres with some questions about life and art that he was kind enough to answer.
What was your inspiration for this piece?
Color. The orange of the pumpkins in the foreground with the activity of the farmstand and the cultivated fields in the background provides wonderful inspiration for a painting. The flag adds a whole other dimension to the subject. It’s a great setting for that symbol.
You were born in Uruguay and have lived in New York City and Barcelona. What brought you to the East End?
When I was seven years old, two significant events collided. There was a U.S.-backed military coup in Montevideo, and the Guggenheim Museum was holding a major retrospective in New York of my grandfather, Joaquin Torres-Garcia’s work. My parents took us by ship to New York. Because of the political situation, and the opportunities for my father and his career as an artist, we never left.
You come from a long line of distinguished painters. Do you sometimes feel pressured to continue that family tradition?
I think I feel pressure to succeed, yes. However, it was always my natural inclination to be an artist. I never considered another career.
Of course, I feel most connected to the roots of my family: My grandfather, Joaquin Torres-Garcia; my father, Horacio Torres; and my uncle Augusto Torres. My father passed away when I was a young teen, but in my 20s I spent many years studying in Barcelona under my uncle.
Some of your work is en plein air. Do you prefer that to working in a studio?
I try to equally balance my work between working in a studio and working from nature. The work is different. If you look on my website you will see studio work and plein air as well as reclaimed wood sculpture. You could say my art wears these three different hats.
Plein air provides me with a regular interaction with the outside world and a certain type of discipline. I try to go out and paint every day. It helps to keep me sharp. Working in the studio is an introverted experience, but it allows me more reflection and more opportunity to work at any time.
What one painting from history do you wish you could have created?
“Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez. It’s his monumental court painting for King Philip IV of Spain. I have seen it many times and I never cease to learn from it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Study the masters, be goal-oriented, work hard and believe in yourself.
Where can readers can view your work?
I have a website, aurelio-torres.com. My contact information is available there. I welcome studio visits. Some of my work is also on view, curated by Esperanza Leon, on West Henry Street in Sag Harbor, and also at the South Street Gallery in Greenport.