"…the formless has its own legacy to fulfill, its
own destiny -- which is partly that of liberating our thinking."
Rosalind Krauss

The ‘art informel’ is defined as one of the most important movements of European art  in the 1940’s and the 1950’s. Artists shifted their concerns from the clean and stable surface of the figurative approach to the unpredictable effects of gestural and explosive lines, and the use of  non-traditional materials. Rougher surfaces and shocking confrontations in between volatile stains and erratic marks dominated the new expressionistic aesthetic of the moment. In Paris, Pierre Soulages, Henry Michaux, Jean Dubuffet, and Jean Fautrier, among others, led the new path to a thickened impasto and to the use of new materials such as sand and tar, giving the work an unusually textured surface with spontaneous brushwork, drips, and blobs of paint straight from the tube. The ‘art informel’ or ‘tachism’ executed spontaneously over the canvasses, gave prevalence to a gestural and calligraphic approach as well as to an emotional speed; it gave vent to the subconscious mind of the artist. Alicia H. Torres, in the tradition of the ‘art informel’, and through the use of multi linear compositions and abstract forms, opens up a new territory of poetic abstract paintings aligned in the ‘art informel’ nowadays.

Torres emphasizes the greatness of metal and the magic of its oxidation process. The artist collects found iron pieces which she bends, tears or models into different shapes, adding acids to its surfaces and allowing a deep process of oxidation to occur. She then adds and superimposes the iron pieces to the canvas, giving birth to magical and unpredictable outlines, derived from their oxides, that become major imprints and “drawings” on the surface. Torres performs a particular postmodern pictorial gesture in her paintings: she practically “sculpts” and “draws” on her works using the metal parts’ oxidation as a process of deconstruction. This allows her to produce a complex and multifarious abstract forms derived from chance. The oxidation process releases its tarnish and creates the imprint of lines, spots, and marks that work like a Rorschach imaginary creation. Dreamlike contours and silhouettes liberate the viewer’s imagination in completing the meaning and sense of the works.

Suggestive sepias, deep overshadows and added colors, result in a intricate territory of poetic echoes. Random patterns create cascades of pure and tactile abstract lines. .The work transforms itself into a sinuous compound of capricious characters. Torres taps into the invisible forces of nature, relying on the enchanting power of the oxides acting over matter. Her paintings show intimacy and an uncanny aura of hallucinatory transparencies and colors. Torres’ works intersect realism through a lyrical abstraction.

In her approach to the liquid states of matter, transparencies and stains, Torres creates a sort of ‘melted” and liquefied vision in her paintings that relate her works to other artists’ methods in contemporary art. Her works remind us the site specific installation Glue Pour (1969) by  Robert Smithson, or Cindy Sherman’s Detritus series. Away from the rationale of the Renaissance and its rigid methods and measures, the artist proposes a sharp deconstruction of matter, pigment and paint, connecting her works to the realm of metaphysical substance and transcendence. In Metamorphosis I she re-creates a world of fluids and drippings through sepia-toned oxides and  colored stains. Intertwined abstract forms emerge from the translucent and the transparent realm of the imaginary. Her work Wings proposes a solid double body marked by the strong brown of the oxides, resembling a gigantic and imaginary wing.  Metamorphosis III reflects a volatile and floating body characterized by browns that act as an earthy prevalence and a deep blue that symbolizes a sublime connection to the heavens.

Torres intentionally breaks down the relevance of figuration and its boring narratives. Her images in the canvas become pure eruption of formless spots, bifurcated lines, and intersected diagrams, which result in an imaginary chart dominated by the chance and the ‘accident’.

The triumph of the  inform or the dominance of the ‘formless’ -to cite Yves Alan-Bois and Rosalind Krauss in their famous Pompidou’s exhibition ‘Formless: The User’s Guide’ (1) in Paris in 1996- is most appropriate to define Torres’ works: the formless, as a way to express the unseen and the subconscious. Expansive and contracted lines, boundless contours, diverging and converging matrixes, and multiple vanishing points create a delirious passage to the unpredictable. The spectator navigates into a kaleidoscope of fluctuating signals and flails.

The artist maps out metaphysical configurations of intrepid resonances and allusions. Her works give birth to displacements and accidents on the flow of matter with centrifugal fluids in complex webs in a field of non-gravity. Chaotic patterns intermingle with orderly ones (‘attractors’(2) in the creation of a new geometry of the irregularity.

In her use of the unbound and the formless, the artist points out to the ‘fractal’ arrangement of nature (3). She proposes a non-linear vision of the world, and offers a gate to the mystical and the unseen.

Dr. Milagros Bello, Ph.D.
Art critic


  • Art Encyclopedia. The Concise Grove Dictionary of Art. Copyright © 2002 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Link
  • Art Encyclopedia. Art Informel Link
  • Yves Alain-Blois and Rosalind Krauss    L’Informe: Mode d’emploi,  Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1996
    John Briggs   Fractals. The Pattern of Chaos, A Touchstone book, Simon & Shuster Publications, New York Link
  • Chaos Theory, A brief introduction  Link
  • Joan M. Marter  Abstract Expressionism Link
  • Benjamin Noys    Geroges Bataille   Link

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