CHASED) Art and People Berlin

People: Illustrated Interview with Artist Winston Torr

22 Sep

Born in Toronto, Canada, Winston Torr grew up in a Chinese-American household in Los Angeles, California. After a near-death experience in 2003, Torr craved a different cultural experience in search of identity; the path led him to Berlin, Germany, where he now lives and works. Torr’s one of a kind charcoal like figure and portraits hint at the assumption of decay, yet they continue to carry the daily imprints of history and culture around the world.

Torr is currently showing a new body of work using the Soap Ground technique at 55 limited, Feurigstraße 62, 10827 Berlin, September 12 to October 24, 2014.



Interview with Winston Torr


Chased: Your work is full of movement and energy, where does this energy come from and how does it manifest itself in the creation of your work?

W.T.: Bits and pieces of souls are transferred into my work. They edge to extract, but are sustained by the host. Only in tranquil moments do they peak in protruded sparks as live figures in front of me and I remain in trance.

Chased: Artists are constantly transforming and developing, how do you feel your work has developed?

W.T.: My head is a mess and whenever I try new things, I get excited and do a large bulk series out of inspiration. I do not ever show everything that is done, only a handful. Why? because too much would crowd any living mind. If I were to show everything, I would say the development has been all over the place, because that is just how my mind works. The two true aspects, that always come into play no matter what medium I use are repeatedly figures and newspapers, as I am a newspaperholic, and enticed with the human form.

Chased: You often use figures in your work, what fascinates you about the human form?

W.T.: What enthrals me about the human form is that there really is no one exact same face structure, body form, or even hair / eye colour pattern. There may be many similarities, but not exact identicals. Even the same breed of dogs look exactly identical, lizards and giraffes and cows look exactly identical, goldfish the same, but with the human form stimulates my reality!

Chased: In your recent exhibition / residency, you had the opportunity to work with Intaglio printmaking, a traditional printing process, using “Soap Ground” as a medium. Can you tell us a little bit about that process and what you feel this technique has done for your work?

W.T.: Printmaking has always fascinated me. The aspects of its reproducibility, the workmanship passed on through tradition, the free creativity, as well as the concept of ‘layers’ have inspired me to create this series of prints using the so-called ‘soap ground’ technique, unknown to me until recently. The manifold, often tedious steps of this rare technique require endurance: starting with the meticulously prepared and cleaned copper-plates; moving on to the familiar array of utensils; preparing the perfect strength of the acid. A mixture of soap, white pigment and linseed oil is applied onto the copper plate with a brush. Once the drawing is finished, the plate is covered with an aquatint, a fine layer of rosin dust, which is essential to create tonality.

Melted by a flame onto the copper, this dust will create little spots that hold the ink. Depending upon the quantity of soap ground applied, the acid will then bite into the copper. Thus, the soap ground technique can be considered the most painterly way to create an intaglio print. But it is the very rareness of this technique that corresponds to my world-view, to my idea of artistry since I create, on these very copperplates, representations of my perception of my environment: overlays, developments, interactions and confrontations. Convinced of knowing the results of my work, I eventually realize that the things have their own personality, their autonomy.

“Intaglio” – in a certain way it means the unforeseeable, the surprises of my life, which make my existence so awakening, the scratches and wounds and healings, for which I live and create.

Chased: What is your favourite place to pick up a coffee in Berlin?

W.T.: Impala Coffee. Kochhaus, and Cafe Einstein.



winston torr by benjamin martin


Interview and Illustration: Benjamin Martin



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