New York

Jim Torok

Bill Maynes Gallery

In a 1970 interview, Chuck Close affirmed a statement made by art historian Ernst Gombrich: “The problem of illusionist art is not that of forgetting what we know about the world. It is rather inventing compositions that work.” Close’s tightly controlled early portraits of art-world folk make for an obvious, though ultimately unsatisfying, comparison to Jim Torok’s portraits of art-world folk in his “hi tech lo tech” exhibition. But if we understand “compositions” to include problems of scale, cropping, and markmaking in the context of the realist image, Gombrich’s statement is key to Torok’s sensibility.

A consummate draftsman with a split personality, Torok makes tiny, exquisitely detailed likenesses in oil and graphite; he also draws touchingly crude cartoons. Like Close, he works from photographs, combining extreme scale with painstaking surface. Both of these artists use the human

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