The Catalina Chervin: Catharsis exhibition of drawings is at Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary in the Upper East Side from April 22 – June 13, 2021. By appointment. hutchinsonmodern.com
Argentine artists are known for excellence in abstraction and conceptual thinking. Catalina Chervin is both.
She is from Corrientes, Argentina (1953), a town on the Parana River near the Paraguay border. She trained at the National School of Fine Arts “Ernesto de la Cárcova.” Chervin lives and works between New York City and Buenos Aires.
Chervin draws really well, but has an interesting practice. Even though she is drawing in a two-dimensional plane, she works and reworks pieces over a period of years, so her practice involves the fourth dimension of time.
Chervin uses her art to process the joys and sorrows of her own life and heritage. She is from a Russian Jewish family that fled Europe for Argentina, where she had to live through the Argentine dictatorship of 1976-1983. That’s an out-of-the-frying-pan and into the fire experience. You can see traces of it in the work.
In the same way that an Indigenous artist creates sacred objects by breathing life into them, Chervin leaves some of her own essence in the work. We don’t know if she is consciously channeling Indigenous traditions, but an awareness of our Indigenous roots is part of the Argentine character. The gauchos, Argentine cowboys, were mestizos – meaning mixed Indigenous European. That is the essential Argentine character.
Made You Think
The work is abstract, but verges on the figurative. Some of Chervin’s images recall ginger roots which are readily anthropomorphized. The artist’s layered use of the time dimension gives a unique depth to her images that really draws you in.
Time leaps out of Chervin’s picture plane. The artist’s practice is her form of contemplation and the work invites the viewer into a contemplative place as well. Each piece is almost like a Rorschach blot or the I Ching where you derive meaning in the context of this moment in your own life.
Art can be pretty and the work is very beautiful, but art that makes you think is better. Catalina Chervin’s art is both. It is cathartic.