30 Under 35 2020

Julio Torres Invents his Own World

Kat Herriman

Photography by Aubrey Mayer

Julio-Torres

Julio Torres doesn’t identify as an artist but one could argue that My Favorite Shapes (2019), his first HBO comedy special, could just as easily have appeared in a gallery or museum as on television. A break from typical stand-up, My Favorite Shapes sees Torres building out an entire universe, complete with Space Age costumes, an assembly line of props and a full-blown set that felt like a live-action Jetsons reboot of a Meriem Bennani video installation. This fully realized scenario opens a portal into Torres’s associative reasoning and playful humor that seams together the everyday and the absurd. His writing breathes new life into the imaginative spirit in a way that feels as mature as it is refreshingly childish.

The same characterization could be applied to his work on HBO’s comedy show, Los Espookys, in which Torres stars and writes alongside Fred Armisen and Ana Fabrega. The release of the show’s second season is right around the corner and the New York-based Torres is in the thick of production. “There are some similarities between an exhibition and a [comedy] set,” he says, counting. “I never start with a plot in mind—it comes from a compilation of ideas and scenarios.”

When asked if he’d consider more traditional exhibition-making, Torres shares that a collaborative project with a friend has been on his mind. He has always been art- adjacent, getting his first job after school, and his visa, as a gallery archivist. More recently, Torres has dipped his toes into other aspects of the art world, including some first art purchases, a performative lecture at the MCA Chicago and inclusion in this list. And while he recently took a hiatus from being out and about, he plans to see more shows soon. “I think for a while I was turned off by art,” he admits. “I remember telling friends that I don’t understand why people who deal with beauty have to be so mean and broken.”