Obsessive Traces - Drawings by Five Artists: Bonevardi, Boullosa, Chervin, Díaz and Terán
The word obsession comes from the Latin obsideo: to besiege. For the five artists we present in this exhibition, obsession was instigated by a longing to find a secure haven from instability, a spiritual refuge. Their form of surrender is compulsively drawing very small and intricate elements. The common trait is precision, meticulous execution, and an automatic repetition of a given element: Gustavo Bonevardi draws ¼ inch letters; Gustavo Díaz, tiny intertwined rectangles; Julián Terán, undulating and perfectly aligned parallel lines; Marcelo Boullosa, wiggling marks; and Catalina Chervin, organic shapes.
Instead of writing text, Gustavo Bonevardi (b. 1960) uses letters to draw pictures, forcing the characters to function in a wholly different way. In his drawings, letters may be on the verge of landing on pages to form words, or may be flying off and away- or both, or neither - in any case there is no text, just the elements of it: letters and paper. Bonevardi believes he is not robbing the letters of their ability to communicate, but is instead infinitely expanding their possibilities: “I imagine that in some precise combination, the letters I draw form a perfect text.”
For Marcelo Boullosa (b. 1956), drawing is a contemplative action which often leads to unpredictable results. He uses a Rotring pen, which doesn’t allow for corrections, in order to build layers of density until he achieves total evenness and a basic unity. Each drawing develops from a different pattern, and each pattern develops a system or structure of its own. The problem, he says, is knowing when to stop.
In the refined compositions of Catalina Chervin (b. 1953) abstracted visceral forms are juxtaposed against a textured background of vibrating ink squiggles. Her dramatic contrasts of light and darkness, figuration and abstraction, suggest a rich and soul searching inner world. According to Dr. Marietta Mautner Markhof, curator at the Albertina Museum, Chervin's synthesis of traditional drawing technique and metaphorical quality is absolutely contemporary.
In describing the idea behind his pencil drawings, Gustavo Díaz (b. 1969) says that they reflect the complexity that exists in the universe: “On micro and macro scales, every process is complex, from breathing to walking. I am quite passionate on this subject at any scale. When you zoom in on your own gaze or concepts and see the small details of things, they possess formal, functional, and operative complexities.” The opposite energies of control and chaos are a constant in Díaz's work, as well as his characteristic, precise workmanship.
The horizon in the flat landscape around Monte, the rural town in the province of Buenos Aires, where Julián Terán (b. 1977) grew up and visits often, is a long, straight line. Like it, his latest works, titled Hot Spots, are large and horizontal. The undulating lines in these images are not random, but are designed with a software program that creates elevations on maps, and are then drawn by hand in ink. Illustrating the land's surface, these lines act like skin or a mantle dividing inside and the outside spaces. According to Terán we intuitively know what is hidden under these contours from the way it is agitated from the depths.
The affinities of these artists, who range in age from 36 to 60, are linked with previous generations of draughtsmen such as Emilio Renart and León Ferrari, revealing a unique trait and continuity in Argentine modern and contemporary drawing.
b. 1960, New York City – lives in New York City
Trained as an architect with a degree from Princeton University, Gustavo Bonevardi’s artistic practice ranges from the meticulous to the monumental. Working on a small scale, Bonevardi is known for his “letter drawings,” graphite images in which a multitude of minute, yet precise letters of the alphabet tumble, spill, and stretch their way across the paper’s surface, creating undulating patterns or precise forms which, when viewed from a distance, conceal their miniscule components.
Bonevardi draws on his architectural background when working on his large-scale urban projects. These include the memorial, Tribute in Light (conceived in 2001 and illuminated each year in New York City in commemoration of September 11th), and 10,000 Flower Maze (2011). This later work, a temporary project commissioned for Shenzhen's Citizen Plaza in China, was inspired by the European maze garden commissioned by Emperor Qialong in 1756. The work consisted of thousands of orange traffic safety cones arranged in patterns across the public space.
In 2015, his latest body of work was shown in a solo exhibition, Fictions, at Cecilia de Torres, Ltd. His large-scale drawing, Falling (2007-2009), was recently included in the first group exhibition ever to be held at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, entitled Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11.
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and China Project Installation Photos
b. 1956, Buenos Aires, Argentina – lives in Buenos Aires
The concept of repetition and its effects on visual perception inform the work produced by Argentinean artist, Marcelo Boullosa. Methodical in his artistic technique, Boullosa often repeats a single gesture to create intricate drawings, collages, and paintings which appear to reverberate with echoed shapes and patterns.
In comparison to his monochrome drawings of carefully etched lines, curves, and other graphic elements, Boullosa executes his paintings of repeated squares in both muted pastels and primary colors. At first glance, these paintings seem to follow a strict, grid-like pattern; however, upon closer inspection, they reveal variations in both color and line. These slight variances translate as optical illusions within the viewer’s eye, as the squares appear to rhythmically pulsate across the canvas.
In 1994, Boullosa's artwork was selected to represent Argentina as part of the V Havana Biennial. Works by the artist are included in private collections across Europe, the United States, and South America, as well as at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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b. 1953, Corrientes, Argentina – lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Born in Corrientes, Argentina, Catalina Chervin graduated from the National School of Fine Arts Ernesto de la Cárcova. Based in Buenos Aires, she has also worked with various print workshops in New York City.
A master draftswoman, Chervin’s unique practice is characterized by precise mark-making that the artist works and reworks for what often stretches into multiple years. Over time, these carefully rendered graphic traces build into dense layers that seem to hover on the edge of entropy, yet remain balanced by Chervin’s controlled restraint. Drawing viewers into their psychologically-fraught atmospheres, the resulting artworks create a sensation of deep perspectival space that at times conjure forth landscapes, emotional states, or haunting presences.
Chervin has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship (2004 and 2015) and the Fondo Nacional de las Artes Fellowship in Buenos Aires (2001). Artworks by Chervin are in prestigious public and private collections internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the New York Public Library; the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.; the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas, Austin; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and the Albertina Museum, Vienna, among others.
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b. 1969, Buenos Aires, Argentina – lives in Houston, Texas
Drawing on such esoteric concepts as Ilya Prigogine's chaos theory, non-Euclidian geometry, and the behavior of hyper-complex systems, Gustavo Díaz uses diverse media to create artworks that reflect his education in art, music, and science. Before deciding to dedicate himself fully to art making, Díaz studied at the Escuela Técnica Otto Krause and at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial in his native Argentina. This background, as well as his continued studies in mathematics, philosophy, and other fields, inform the intricate lines and complex structures of his drawings, acrylic sculptures, and reliefs.
In 2001, Díaz received the Banco Ciudad Foundation Prize from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, and in 2002 he co-founded NOUS, a Center of Art and Design dedicated to interdisciplinary scientific research. In 2013, the artist's work was featured at ExpoChicago, where he was named Artforum's “Critics' Pick.” Two years later, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston included Díaz's work in an exhibition entitled Cosmic Dialogues: Selections from the Latin American Collection, which focused on artistic explorations of space and light. The show was curated by Mari Carmen Ramírez, MFAH Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and Director of the International Center for Arts of the Americas (ICAA).
Díaz's work has been shown in both group and solo exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), TX; the Museo Valenciano de la Ilustración y la Modernidad in Valencia, Spain; as well as other exhibition spaces throughout the United States and Argentina.
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b. 1977, La Plata, Argentina – lives in Buenos Aires
Julián Terán grew up in Monte, a rural town in the province of Buenos Aires, where the artist continues to reside and work. He graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredón in Buenos Aires where he was trained along with artists Fabiana Barreda and Rodrigo Alonso, amongst others. In addition to being a visual artist, Terán is a musician and composer that fuses traditional Argentine folk rhythms with electronic and alternative music.
In 2011, Terán completed several major projects, including an extensive solo exhibition at the Museo J.R. Vidal de Corrientes, Argentina; an exhibition at the Multiespacio San Telmo, Buenos Aires; and a large-scale mural work at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA), Argentina. In 2014, the artist's work was featured in the exhibition, Litoralismo, at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina.
Terán has had solo and group exhibitions in both galleries and museums throughout Argentina, including the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Rosario (MACRO); the Museo Castagnino, Rosario; the Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires; and the Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires.
Terán's artwork also forms part of various important Latin American private collections, and has been exhibited in several international art fairs, including ArteBA, Buenos Aires; ArtBo, Bogotá; and Pinta, New York.
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