The works of John Ahern and Rigoberto Torres are held in different places, beginning from the 42nd Street in Manhattan to the 100th Street in Harlem, Puerto Rico and the Bronx. New York, st. Walker, 47 to 21 October.
Working both together and independently, Ahearn and Torres have made casts directly from life models since the early 1980s. Drawing inspiration from the people they meet in everyday occasions, both artists continue to adapt to different environments while being deeply committed to interaction and collaboration with their sitters. The resulting portraits – through their vivid pallets and highly individualized, naturalistic feel – provide a dynamic account of the different sitters’ personalities.
Evolving from constant adaptation to the places and contexts in which the casts were made, the sculpture’s subjects include athletes, shop owners, and artists, of all ages and backgrounds. While the sitters’ faces evoke a variety of expressions – playfulness, pride, sadness, or defiance – all ultimately reveal the sitters’ strength as individuals.
Whether produced individually or in collaboration, this series of works convey both artists’ commitment to representing their local communities. John Ahearn moved from downtown Manhattan to the South Bronx in 1979 and began making his first casts of local residents at Fashion Moda, an alternative gallery that thrived in the South Bronx during the 1980s and early 1990s. It was during one of these live casting sessions that Rigoberto Torres met Ahearn.
As it happened, Torres had already been introduced to casting and painting at his uncle’s statuary factory. At first, Torres volunteered as a model and later became Ahearn’s long-time collaborator. Over the span of a 30-year career, Ahearn and Torres have exhibited their work widely across the United States, Europe, and Latin America.