The End is Nigh: A Review of Tom Torluemke at One After 909

By Alan Pocaro
Tom Torluemke, “Sickly Decline,” 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 78.25 x 136.5 inches: an eleven-foot spiritual and scatological descendant of Belgian painter James Ensor’s razor-sharp brush.
Tom Torluemke is one of Chicago’s most gifted contemporary artists. “Born in the USA” at One After 909 is his latest foray in a series of “the end is nigh”-style visual homilies addressed to a wayward flock, and his best yet. Like the works in previous exhibitions, the paintings in “Born in the USA” are both a reflection of contemporary political events and a dire prediction of the future. Where this show differs from earlier efforts is in the complexity of the visual statement.  “Born in the USA” is the perfect antidote for those who’ve soured on the milquetoast abstraction that routinely leaks from the bloated walls of the city’s art programs. [More]