I make drawings and paintings of shockingly distorted figures in dramatic scenes.  By combining flat abstract color fields, collage elements, and meticulously rendered forms, I create compositions full of symbolism and raw emotion. My work explores queer immigrant identities and the pervasiveness of oppression by drawing parallels between the political violence in my Peruvian childhood and myriad injustices today.




Catherine Tafur is a Peruvian born artist based in New York City. Tafur spent their childhood in Peru in a bicultural home with a Japanese mother and Peruvian father before relocating to the US. The content of their work is informed by the experience of their youth as a queer, multiracial immigrant in American suburbia. Their drawings and paintings explore themes of political violence, queer sexuality, and marginalized identities. Their subjects are political and personal, feminist and confrontational. Since studying at the Cooper Union School of Art on a full scholarship, they have had numerous group and solo exhibitions.




“Translating the sinister underpinnings of our times into a visually powerful body of work, Tafur brings us representations of the human struggle for a normal and dignified existence. Surreal and grotesque, her paintings embody both personal experiences and universal yearnings.”
– Elena Martinique, Widewalls Magazine, 2019


“Ms. Tafur has skillfully translated the confusion of our voyeuristic era, and the sinister underpinnings of our current global theatre in a concise, albeit disturbing image that speaks to our time… one of the most emotionally intelligent and visually pleasing shows I’ve seen all year.”
– Ola Manana, Talking Grid, 2012


“Political art has the power to comment on global situations and often dig deeper into what lies at the core, reflecting an alternative to what the media feeds its audience. Such is the case with artist Catherine Tafur…”
– Steve V. Rodriguez, Progressive Pulse, 2012


“News junkies may be intrigued by Catherine Tafur’s interpretations of current events. She puts a surreal spin on events that felt, at the time, truly surreal. Her paintings also point out the archetypes that help us explain traumatic events to ourselves.”
– Art & Culture Gallery Notes, Hotel Americano, 2012


“Tafur’s riveting, contemporary works explode with instances of violence, death, and madness.”
– Alison Martin, Examiner, 2012


“Her images are strong and contemporary. They are a unique mix of avant-garde, horror and science fiction, with both North and South American iconography: Yankees on one hand, Incas on the other. It is a powerful, mythical presentation of a human, especially feminine struggle for normal existence as seen through the eyes of a very personal, deep experience, growing up within the horrifying urban alien matrix.”
– Uri Lehavi, Art Channel, 2011


“…her work makes us aware of the irreconcilable conflict between our extraordinary capacity to love and our terror that we may not be worth loving. What we come quickly to understand from this work is that what pulls at our hearts eventually tears open our flesh.”
– Eric Fischl, 2010


“Connecting with Tafur’s art is not what happens – the shock of the grotesque surreal repels, but then locks in for real. It’s the wicked humor and high technique that does it: the shark mermaid beribboned B&D high above Times Square, Pig Beast as a baby, Elephant Turtle whose ears are legs. Not your standard bestiary. Not your standard art. So gimme more!”
– Bob Holman, 2010


“…Catherine Tafur approaches her work with great earnestness, but this is not the only reason that we find such a fresh vitality in her art… We are reminded that for an artist, the act of making art is an act of introspection.”
– Noorelkys Blazekovic, Irreversible: An International Art Project Magazine, 2010


“These “changelings” bare their innocence, pain, sexual pervasiveness and mutations openly to the viewer. Both beautiful and disturbing, some recall mythical combinations of human-beast not made from divine sources but rather painful interventions.”
– Diane Bowen, Saatchi Online, 2009


Catherine Tafur – Yearning to Breathe Free

Monographic publication on Peruvian-born, New York-based queer artist Catherine Tafur, focusing on the artist’s oeuvre from 2003 to 2019, with texts by Noah Dillon, Zachary Small, and a conversation with Eric Fischl. Published by Maus Contemporary.

Hardcover, 316 pages, full color, with over 150 illustrations, English language, approx. 12 by 9.6 in. (ca. 30,7 by 23,7 cm).  ISBN: 978-0-9988397-2-1

For more information visit http://mauscontemporary.com/publications/


*Catherine Tafur is represented by Maus Contemporary.