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Gallery: Sérvulo - Full Life and Work

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Twentieth century Peruvian art has one of its most notable and personal examples in Sérvulo Gutiérrez (1914-1961). An ambitious exhibit of his works on display from September 10th to November 8th in the Lima Art Museum, made the public viewing of his art possible, and which, despite its acceptance and initial success did not generate a group of followers.

SérvuloDesert, valley and oasis. Ica, the city where Sérvulo Gutiérrez was born, was the starting point for a sensitive and innate talent which led him to express himself through drawings, since his early childhood days. His first works: portraits, landscapes and the image of the Señor de Luren (Lord of Luren), allowed him to develop, in several stages and with diverse styles, an extraordinary capability of creative freedom and a full display of his expressiveness.

Not quite a teenager when his mother passed away, Sérvulo arrived in Lima and joined the family of his eldest brother Alberto, a well-known restorer who taught him his initial techniques.

Buenos Aires (where he traveled to as part of a Peruvian boxing delegation) and Paris are the two environments in which this artist suffered experiences that would inevitably affect him for the rest of his life. His contact with other places and people not only gave him a new sense of direction, but also formed the character of his images. His overflowing vitality led him to capture and enjoy the bohemian spirit that would accompany him until his death. His return to both Lima and Buenos Aires also influenced his decision to take up art as his life´s work.

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Self made artist

It is unknown whether Sérvulo actually attended an academy, or was the pupil of a professor, such as the artist Emilio Pettoruti, for whom Gutiérrez professed his outspoken admiration and respect. Pettoruti, a disciplined, intelligent and determined man, a defender of modern art sought by the spirit of those times, deeply influenced Sérvulo.

The portraits of Claudine, of close kin, rooftop images and urban scenes of Buenos Aires, painted between 1944 and 1946 stem from Sérvulos´ contact with artists proposing new forms of interpreting and representing reality.

In 1946, Sérvulo began to exercise a chromatic freedom without complexes. The use of complements, the rich quality of the formal mass based on blues, yellows and browns, all properly arranged, allowed him to achieve a personal and final rhetoric. The memorable portraits of Chepa Schwab and Doris Gibson, and even his self-portrait, in which his search for the colors of the soul invades the overall scene, are from this stage.

Gutiérrez discovered that painting is color; that the line is not final and is an unwanted limitation for his ambitions of expression. This intense feeling led him to abandon precision drawing. He moved toward the ´rhythm` of the rebellious masses, and once mastered, he continued on to portray the idea of an internal, intimate and shared landscape, to illustrate his initial experiences.

Hasty Life

His trips to Ica would become more frequent. By 1951, this city was a motivating factor in his paintings of Laguna Huacachina, La Huega, the desert, palm trees, the Huarangos and the always stunning Ica sunsets.

His paintings of Christ´s image and numerous sketches remain engraved in some very unexpected places: wrapping paper, scarves, napkins, cardboard, and just about any public space he could find. This frenzy of work was encouraged by deep anxiety while a continuously rushed and pressing lifestyle slowly weakened his physical and spiritual resources.

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An extensive and coherent collection of works remain as a result of his absolute sincerity by achieving self-acceptance, free from fears or prejudices, with no intentions other than expressing his limitations. Because of this loyalty towards his true self, based on talent and energy, we admire his works with their qualities and faults, corresponding to a fulfilling life.

By Elida Román
Volume III/Issue 13, Page 80
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