I was drawn to Torney's bold and aggressive use of paint, where the image or motif is really at the surface of the paint. Torney displays a passion for the materiality of paint - seductive and juicy qualities heightened by the use of a medium that gives it it's sexy shine, further drawing attention to the paint itself. The sense is that the painting was created out in the observable landscape exists, as paint and image coalesce into one despite suggestion of an observed motif.
James Stroud, Judge's commentary in awarding Blue Ribbon honors for the Gallery 334 juried exhibition - Fall 2014
Ian worked as an Artist-In-Residence for the six months preceding his exhibit "Surface To Air" shown in our galleries in July 2012, and I had the privilege of seeing a few of the paintings take form as Ian worked in his Attic Studio. The process and method of creating art is as personal and unique as the final product. Peering into the artists’ studio can reveal a greater insight into art they create. I can attest to the contemplation that went into the compositions, values and hues. This series of landscapes that teeter on abstraction are successful because they were painted with the intentionality of a landscape painter and the spirit of an abstractionist.
Ryan Linehan, Kimball Jenkins Estate Executive Director Commentary for the solo exhibition "Surface To Air" - July 2012
My most recent body of work – the “At The Horizon” series – is an idea that I have been exploring for nearly three years now. Regarding the horizon, in his evocative opening of HEART OF DARKNESS Joseph Conrad writes: “The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and sky were welded together without a joint… A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to seas in vanishing flatness.” And in his own philosophical response to that passage in the introduction to his book THE HORIZON , Didier Maleuvre contemplates that scene and its connotations, commenting that: “Above is the sky; below is the fathomless deep. Nature appears in the primeval, geometric, naked fact of it; there is the earth and there is the sky. Nothing is hidden, nothing obfuscated. Yet the scene is profoundly mysterious. Its immensity kindles thoughts of ultimate concern. The human gaze spans the near and the far, the familiar and the remote.” Maleuvre goes on to cite philosopher Blaise Pascal, and what Pascal termed “the grandeur and the misery” of human perception; Maleuvre concluded that: “We, voyagers, can dream of would-be places and faraway worlds; we intuit the infinite; yet all this infinity highlights is, in the end, the limit of human knowledge: in the end we see only as far as we CAN see. And the more we know how limitedly we see, the more our imagination ventures beyond the blurry boundary….” This current series “At The Horizon” has evolved into my own exploration of the boundless implications of ambiguity, mystery, and promise found where the earth meets the sky. It is an exploration directed as much by where the paint leads as it is by what the subject inspires. Many of these smaller eight-by-eight-inch studies on panels have been or will be translated into much larger works – some into 12-by-12-inches finished paintings, or most ambitiously onto 24-by-24- or 36-by-36-inch canvases, with the largest to date on a 42-by-42-inch canvas.
Ian Torney, Artist Statement for the Nesto Gallery solo exhibit "At The Horizon: Recent Works" – April/May 2012.
Ian Torney presents two bodies of work, that speak to the dichotomy of his practice as a painter: traditional landscapes, many painted in the plein-air tradition on site and from observation, and some larger studio creations; and also two new sequence-of-six groups of paintings from his "On The Seventh Day He Rested" series, still rooted in the landscape as a point of departure, but about the sky, and about the paint, that explore the tension between realism and abstraction.
Pam Tarbell, Mill Brook Gallery Director Commentary - May 2009.
From Ian Torney’s “Skies I Saw This Week” series, the seven-panel polyptych - all skyscapes - demonstrate an elegant coherence to several strands of independent thought interlaced in this culminating graduate work. These strands include an interest in plein-air painting; alter pieces, iconography, the sublime, the complex role of photography both as a competing standard for representation and a practical tool for the modern painter, and the medium of oil paint itself. As an act of problem solving it is a commendable feat. The pictorial structure is complex, and well varied, and sophisticated. The brave use of garish, high gloss final varnish alludes to the photograph while the paint echoes Constable. The formatting of the panels resembles Polaroid snapshots. An array of rectangles - vertical, horizontal, and square - lend a minimalist vibration to the overall arrangement. The framing plays upon multi-paneled church art. Most importantly, the work operates completely within its own inherent motives. The outcome is quite stunning.
Eugene Dorgan, Art Institute of Boston MFA Faculty Review - June 2008.
Does Ian Torney make clouds out of paint? Or paint out of clouds? The movement of pigment on his surfaces has a quality almost meteorological that makes the distinction meaningless.
Anthony Apesos, Art Institute of Boston MFA Faculty Review - June 2007.
Ian Torney's new paintings are honest and direct and very personally motivated. The fashion and theory surrounding contemporary painting is not this painter's agenda. Evolving out of the artist's long practice of plein-air painting, this new body of work is still a pure response to a given place, much in the tradition of Fairfield Porter; but they explore the material of the paint, and leave the subject of landscape, creating space within the mass of the medium, and utilizing scale and mark and gesture, often without reference to anything in particular....