Saturday, November 15, 2008

CPC Small Print Show: Bruce Thorn

This blog is part of a series of interviews of participating artists / printmakers in the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative Small Print Show.

Growing up on the south side of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Bruce Thorn received a scholarship to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received a BFA degree in painting and drawing. He later attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned an MFA degree in painting. His major areas of printmaking are aquatint etching and multi-color linoleum block printing. For the CPC Small Print Show, he offers drawings as explorations for prints.

Bruce Thorn. Drawing 1. 2008.

Bruce Thorn. Drawing 2. 2008.

Bruce admits he has "soaked up" just about every influence he has been exposed to including Renaissance masters, West African primitives, Chicago School Imagists, CoBra, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Surrealism and all the other "isms" to arrive at a deceptively simple, but at the same time, complex and sophisticated lexicon.

Bruce Thorn. Drawing #16. 2008.
Ink and gouache.

"My work with images emphasizes invention. Anthropomorphic shapes offer multiple, ambiguous interpretations. The artworks do away with narrative, replacing it with the vocabulary of color, shape, line and movement. Meandering line often serves as the beginning of a process, suggesting forms and interactions.

"At first glance, these images appear to be nonobjective abstractions, teeming with enigma. Upon further study one can discover references to urban and natural environments. Eyes, faces and figures abound. The crowds and sounds of the city converge. Fluid movements, curves, vortexes, color schemes and exquisite details reference the natural world of landscape, ocean, sky and cosmos. These are objective and subjective abstractions of the world we live in. The message here is about the freedom to imagine and enjoy.

"I am attracted to both the microcosmic and the macrocosmic. How much information can be gained from a close reading of details? What coherent, elegant and powerful messages are offered from an overall glance? What is hidden, what is exposed? The images work well from a distance or close up. From a distance, many are simple and graphic. Upon closer viewing, they offer subtle details and rich textures.

"Life confronts us with chaos. Through art we come to terms with this chaos. With image making, we are confronted by our own world views and their relationship to those of others. Perhaps we could use more of that in the world today."

Bruce Thorn. Untitled 10. 2008.

Bruce's recent exhibitions include The Artist Project, juried, Chicago, 2007; Abstract Imagism, group exhibition, Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery, Chicago, 2006; Exhibition with Liz Quisgard, Flaten Art Museum, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, 2006; Solo exhibition, Hyde Park Art Center, Loop Gallery, Chicago, 2005; 4th Triennale Graphic Prague, group exhibition, The Czech Museum of Fine Arts, 2004; War and Peace, juried, Gallery 415, Chicago, 2004; Exhibition with Imfriede Lagerkvist, Crown Gallery, Loyola College, Chicago, 2003.

Bruce recently leased a space in a building at the corner of Irving Park Road and Ravenswood. He will use the space to paint, print and exhibit his own and other people’s art. The studio has over 100 feet, or 33 meters, of wall space and a view of downtown. It is across the street from the Brown Line Irving Park. For more information on Bruce and his art, go to

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