‘Cuatro Voces’ at Thacher Gallery by Allison Bing (Artweek Dec 2002/ Jan 2003)
“Cuatro voces (Four Voices) raises a tricky question without necessarily meaning to. When it comes to a work of art, who does the talking, and who does the listening? The curatorial statement of Cuatro Voces introduces the four featured artists as speakers representing “the many voices of Latin American culture and identity”, holding forth on spirituality, politics, death and myth. But an art gallery is not an academic symposium, and art at its best is far more than a treatise. Viewers stand transfixed, nodding and mumbling in front of a work of art not just because they’ve heard and understood the artist, but because the artist has also heard and understood them.
Reconciling past, present and future is also a central concern for painter Santiago Gino Gervasi, who like an archaeologist digs through layers of political and cultural structures and makes notations of his findings to involve us in his process of discovery. Most of Gervasi’s notes are questions, faint diagrams, and sentence fragments-the only certainties he provides are the exact dimensions of the pyramids, spirals, spheres and boxes that float across the surface of his work. These shapes are the building blocks of the native, colonial and contemporary architecture of Gervasi’s native Peru and Mexico, and reconciling these disparate structures is a central formal, cultural and political concern of his work. These varied shapes collide, overlap and coincide with the cityscape against a black background in Avenida Pachacutec (Pachacutec Avenue), bringing to mind a symphonic Kandinsky as well as abandoned geometry proofs on a blackboard. But this work is not entirely harmonious, nor is it didactic; Gervasi doesn’t claim to have the right answers here, but he has paid such a careful attention to his subject that his questions resonate and prompt us to join in the musing.” ...