Critics’ Picks

View of Carlos Cima’s “Magdalena,” 2020. Left and right: Untitled, 2019, oil on linen, 79 x 55".

View of Carlos Cima’s “Magdalena,” 2020. Left and right: Untitled, 2019, oil on linen, 79 x 55".

Buenos Aires

Carlos Cima

Constitución Galería
Del valle Iberlucea 1140
November 23, 2019–February 29, 2020

Long white crepe dresses, over-the-top bouquets of carnations and roses, perfect meringue pies, porcelain swans, perfumes and plastic pietàs: These make up the universe of Carlos Cima, who paints the mementos of adolescence with an enthralling mixture of sentiment and detachment. In “Magdalena,” the artist’s second exhibition at this intimate experimental venue—which doubles as a home for its two gallerists, Alberto Romero and Martín Fernández—the young artist indirectly examines the souvenirs and fetishes of certain Latin American rituals (quinceañeras, baptisms, weddings, first communions), all of them tied somehow to the Catholic Church, the predominant religion since colonization. If Cima’s first show at Constitución, with all those delicate but grubby swans and fabrics, established an interest in the clichés of virginity and femininity, these seven oils on linen (all Untitled, 2019) bring that obsession further into the realm of belief. In this domestic setting, Cima’s works attain a sense of lived-with-ness that deepens their near-spiritual fascination with the ordinary. In one wispy vision, a haloed girl in a pale dress is doubled in a mirror, which serves to crystallize a duality between bride and ghost. Cima’s paintings, de-skilled and rendered thickly, have a sugary quality that threatens to cloy, though there is still much to admire in his new work, which surrenders fantasy to kitsch and places the mysteries of youth before a colder gaze reserved by adults for things once secretive and now all too well understood.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.