Torriset is renowned for his poetic visual language; often fluctuating between abstraction and figuration. The artist’s awareness of art history, architecture, language, literature and philosophy, is often put to use in a rich, multi-voiced vocabulary that absorbs and renegotiates collective symbols and art-historical pathos formulas. The references to this cultural-historical universe become woven into an inner landscape. The direct impulse of drawing is also present in his paintings, which play on a diverse grammar that creates enigmatic constellations.
With exquisite care in the treatment of colour and texture, Torriset gained a central position in the 80s and 90s with the renewal of the importance of the human figure in painting. In images where the surface is layered by soft and glowing landscapes, weightless figures interact with architectural elements and abstract signs. The revitalisation of the naked body during postmodernism was often interpreted as a reversal of a historical figuration that had been driven into exile during modernism. The body in painting was therefore also assigned a mythological dimension where the intention was to expand self-understanding related to the long timelines. This perspective is clearly expressed in Torriset's mythological and art historical references. The longing for a base far beyond our contemporary concerns drew the body into a mythological reserve where it sought refuge from the instrumentalisation of modern society. This civilization-critical perspective was continued and developed in Torriset's paintings from 2004-2011, which show a fragmentary merging of different elements into a new form of mimetic narrative. The relationship between figure, space and surface refer to a greater degree to body portraits that are punctured by plastic pictorial elements. In these works, architectural structures are processed in interaction with the body's vulnerability, which refers to themes such as alienation and transience.
I enter the room and find everything I thought I knew has changed.
The light has moved things around, altered their shape and changed what was familiar and I see everything as for the first time - yet again. Every day is new, every step takes me in a new direction and every painting is new. Nothing is certain, we can only make a guess at it, no building fits the figure, perspective is an invention, colour is a fantasy, my foot never touches the ground. I tend towards unrealism, but that also comes from somewhere, - from the observance of the unending stream of the everyday.
I often think paintings have a sense of place, their own geography, a compass and also a will of their own. I work with a similar sense of that place and sometimes, somewhere, we might happen to meet. Similarly, I might use a colour or a drawing that will gradually find its way in the world, losing its way, but usually on completion, the painting will have returned to where it started from, the original thought, that glimpse (!) - and in this way, the painting might be said to find me as I find it.
In many of his works, Torriset has been preoccupied with religious iconography, which was made apparent in the National Gallery's exhibition; East-West, (2004) where Torriset chose to include his work in a dialogue with a selection of the museum's collection of Russian icons. By reconstructing an iconostasis on one end wall he mounted a symmetrical wall of his own works opposite, characterized by materiality and abstract pictorial grammar with references to minimalism. On the floor, he placed a white painted cross with dimensions and direct reference to Cimabue's (1240-1302) crucifix in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. This dialogue between abstraction and the icon alluded to a new articulation of spiritual or metaphysical content continued in his solo show “Geometry and Flux” (2011) at the Haugar Vestfold Art Museum (Norway) where he repeated the idea with the cross on the floor, but this time the dialogue between abstraction and figuration was created within his own visual universe.
When Torriset works with well-known religious and art-historical motifs, it can be compared to a language that is slowly changing but without losing contact with the root of the word. In this way, new ties are created between the present and the past and a contemporary understanding divorced from history is challenged. The language forms of the past and their continuity can be said to be an important element in Torriset's art, and an example of this is demonstrated in his series Accademia Della Morte-paintings where the Pieta motif is revitalised and given a contemporaneous exp