Critics’ Picks

View of “Mi reina,” 2018.

Buenos Aires

Diego Figueroa

HACHE
Loyola 32
November 13–February 20

Diego Figueroa, a native of Buenos Aires, lives and works in El Chaco in northeastern Argentina, near the border with Paraguay. It’s not for nothing that its capital city is called Resistencia, as it is located at the outer edge of what the Eurocentric West considers the world. For twenty-some years, Figueroa has produced art critical of capitalism and enmeshed in local popular culture. While this exhibition, titled “Mi reina” (My Queen), does not stray from that terrain, its mood is a bit more cheerful.

In the courting process, the Argentinian chongo, or stud (with all the term’s implications of manliness for gay and straight culture), offers his beloved everything he does not have—indeed, that which he can barely dream of having. Driven by passion, he is capable of anything at all, but his first show of affection will be putting a roof over her head. Los jardines de mi reina (My Queen’s Gardens), 2018, depicts a sprawling garden in the grand Baroque style of seventeenth-century France. In a startling and effective juxtaposition, corrugated sheet metal serves as the canvas for this royal landscape. The pairing of the “high” European Enlightenment tradition with this common construction material, often used for cheap roofing, is then mounted on a wooden structure, much like a primitive truss. Though the artist has addressed the issue of housing in relation to overcrowding in previous work, here, something seems to have shifted. The act of painting in this exhibition extols the erotic play that is the unbridled back-and-forth between artist and materials, to the extent that the chosen image, so far removed from its context, seems more an expression of desire than a political statement. As the saying goes, home is where the heart is.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.