Edra Soto and Emanuel Torres at LatchKey Gallery, NY

LatchKey Gallery is proud to present, SURROUNDED BY WATER, a two-person exhibition featuring new works by Edra Soto and Emanuel Torres. Drawing on historical, political and personal narratives, Soto and Torres create abstract, visuals essays documenting the consequences of the colonial relationship between the Unites States and Puerto Rico.

Edra Soto, Dos Cuerpos 7, 2022,
Latex paint and mixed mediums over paper, 35 x 23 in

As part of Edra Soto’s ongoing series, GRAFT, Dos Cuerpos (Two Bodies), is a collection of works on paper of fragmented compositions sourced from her decade long investigation into the origins of Rejas; ornamental iron screens ubiquitous in the architecture of post-war Puerto Rico due to the security they provided and their ability to allow for cross ventilation. Today, theses iron rejas are not only viewed as a protection device as much as a language that pertains to the island’s visual culture. The ghostly imprints found in Dos Cuerpos suggest a sense of fragility, an absence which act as metaphors to her personal experience as she cares for her elderly mother who suffers from dementia, the numerous catastrophic hurricanes and recent laws that have accelerated settled colonialism on the island. This sense of absence, loss and removal converge on to the paper as cryptic remnants or archeological findings from the past.

Where Soto’s geometrical abstractions are derived from the architecture of Puerto Rico, the gestural abstractions by Emanuel Torres are examinations of the human form. Working from the body, Torres deconstructs the form, fragmenting them into a reduction of shapes and colors that energetically consume the canvas. As Torres explains, “the colonial relationship creates a psychological way of being, some sort of deformation. Trying to understand what is around and creating something out of it. In this case, painting is a way of freedom, … that build themselves in the painting as a poem of forms that in some way articulates what is happening around me.” These gestural works result in a symbolic liberation of the colonized body, freeing these forms to create a new body; a rebirth.

Emanuel Torres, Surrounded by Water, 2022,
Oil, acrylic, charcoal on canvas, 48 x 36 in

SURROUNDED BY WATER serves as a visual essay into the inequities imposed on an island and its people. Words resulting from the 45th President who, when ask what he knew about Puerto Rico after the catastrophic hurricane María, replied, “It is an island, surrounded by water…” serves as the symbolic indifference the US Government has towards its colonized-citizens.

LatchKey Gallery is proud to partner with The Clemente for this exhibition. Upcoming programs at The Clemente include, Emanuel Torres, Artist-in-Residence through November 20th, Artist Talk with Edra Soto, November 5th and ongoing studio tours.


Puerto Rican-born, Edra Soto is an interdisciplinary artist and co-director of the outdoor project space The Franklin. Her recent projects, which are motivated by civic and social actions, prompt viewers to reconsider cross-cultural dynamics, the legacy of colonialism, and personal responsibility. Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's satellite, The Momentary (Arkansas); Albright-Knox Northland (New York); Chicago Cultural Center (Illinois); Smart Museum (Illinois); the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Illinois) and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, (Illinois). In 2019, Soto completed the public art commission titled Screenhouse on view at the Millennium Park, Boeing Gallery North through April 2022. Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Maine), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (Florida), Beta-Local (Puerto Rico), Headlands Center for the Arts, (California), Project Row Houses (Texas) and Art Omi (New York) among others. Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship in 2016, the Illinois Arts Council Agency Fellowship in 2019, the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize in 2019 and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting and Sculpture Grant in 2020 among others. Between 2019-2020 Soto’s work was included in three exhibitions supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund: Repatriation at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Cross Currents at the Smart Museum in Chicago, and Close to There in Salvador, Brazil. Soto is a lecturer for the Contemporary Practices Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from which she received an MFA. She holds a BFA degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico

Emanuel Torres (Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, 1988) creates abstract paintings of fragmented bodies liberating from the restraints of cultural imperialism.

Rich in color and shape, his rhythmic compositions find influence in Olga Albizu (1924-2005), Rosado del Valle (1922-2008), Carmelo Fontánez (1945) and Julio Suárez (1947), among others. Torres pulls from Puerto Rican masters, to push through colonial systems resulting in stylistic revolutions that move from fervent marks, to graceful arcs.

Torres graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras with a BA in theatre and philosophy and continued his studies in video art, installation and performance at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey. He is the recipient of the 2018 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and has participated in group and individual exhibitions across Puerto Rico, Europe, Japan, and the United States.

SURROUNDED BY WATER will be on view through December 18, 2022 at 173 Henry Street, New York.