Beams of light

By Michael Nungesser (09/03/2013)

One's own breath as scale - under this metaphor stands the exhibition by Catalina Chervin in Kunsthaus Lempertz (Poststraße 22, bis 15. März). „Con la medida de mi aliento“ she titles the series of black and white drawings which by far exceed the usual scale of works on paper. They are images up to two meter in height, which still don't appear monumental or overwhelming. They quietly pulsate, draw in magically, trigger curiosity. No clear contours and lines, nothing clearly recognizable is shown, the course of viewing is a search and exploration. It is a meditative insight into an unknown world which covers the paper to its edges.

At first view only the light and dark zones are visible, an interchange of shadows. Then thousands of lines and calligraphic marks become apparent. With the finest pens Catalina Chervin creates structures in any shades of gray using charcoal, pencil and ink. They consist of stippling, circling, hatching which all overlay and cross, interrupted by light zones created with an eraser, zones of light and bundles of rays. It is a fantastical world - but without ghosts.

There is no doubt that the artist, born in 1953 in Corrientes in Argentina's north east and living in Buenos Aires, stands in the tradition of surrealism. In the 90's she developed her visionary images of inner life, from which the here exhibited work developed. Back then the focus was on anthropomorphic shapes, outlines of sculls and bodies. The gestural strength remained in the new work but all figurative has disappeared or moved to the back. Still one seems to recognize flocks of birds, windswept shrubs or cloudbursts. The borders between large and microscopically small dissolve in this melancholic inner world. Atmosphere replaces recognizable representation.
Besides the drawings and collages two print series are shown: "Apocalipsis" (2004) and "Canto" (2010/11) each with one poem by Fernando Arrabal and Itzhak Katzenelson. These etchings were printed by Lothar Osterburg in New York. Not only in these are the inner worlds filled with screams and songs, traces of horror and sorrow are written into the paper and for a moment take your breath away.




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