Spain-based artist Cristina Guerrero’s first US exhibition is comprised of dueling canvases, juxtaposed in order to illuminate that sordid bridge between reality and advertised fantasy. The ‘real’ in question are styled glimpses of a hyper-fetishized female form (the artist’s own) shown in contrast to the fantasy of commercial sweets and domestic items. At first, the two canvases in each set seem so visually similar that it takes a moment to process which is natural and which is manufactured. The argument begins to fall flat when you realize that these depictions of women are a parade of camp that the artist has conjured up to incite shock. In one grouping, “Dulce IV,” a red vinyl-clad torso posing desperately for the viewer is mirrored by a red heart-shaped lollipop coated in so much shine that it’s safe to assume it was in the model’s mouth just before its close-up. How can we be moved to contemplate our own bad habits and fixations if the ‘real’ is this unrelatable? The most successful diptychs are those that offer a hint of human tangibility: a tan line at the end of a leisurely summer, a head of sunlit hair set in curlers or a lounging pair of legs.
Despite a tired notion of femininity, the technical beauty of these masterfully produced oil paintings combined with the artist’s sensitivity to design and light is undeniable. I am hopeful to see what is next for this painter when she credits her viewers with a little more substance and truly invites us to engage in a dialogue with her ideas. (Ryanne Baynham)
Through September 8 at Gallery KH, 311 W. Superior.