Critics’ Picks

Zuzanna Czebatul, The Virgin, 2020, carpet, resin, 14 × 21 × 35".

Zuzanna Czebatul, The Virgin, 2020, carpet, resin, 14 × 21 × 35".


Zuzanna Czebatul

Sans titre (2016)
33, rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin
October 17–December 4, 2020

At the end of October, following a ruling that made abortion due to fetal defects unconstitutional, women across Poland took to the streets and disrupted religious services in protest. The slogan “women’s hell,” displayed on banners hung on church walls in Warsaw, mirrors the defiant energy present in Polish artist Zuzanna Czebatul’s exhibition “Hell Hath No Fury Like A Dick Scorned.” Prominently featured is a suite of drawings of revered spaces, copied by Czebatual from Renaissance paintings in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie. Situated between architectural blueprints and sculptural objects, the works are encased in red and brown resin that suggests a womb. Titled after some of the men who constructed humanist ideals of precision and order—Bartolomeo, Domenico, and Vincenzo among them (all works 2020)—the drawings are hung over hand-written quotations from Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud’s text Studies on Hysteria (1895), which argued that hysteria was grounded in trauma, often sexual in nature. Through a stylistically warped font and its partial concealment, Czebatul asserts herself over a mode of patriarchal thinking that sought to tame female behavior deemed disordered.

Accompanying the wall works are two sculptures of Oriental carpets, Madonna with Child and The Virgin. Rather than adorn floors or stairs as in the Renaissance paintings they were inspired by, Czebatul’s renditions seem to levitate and create their own pathways. They offer a route out of the hell that is rational, male-dominated systems of scientific, political, and religious thought. While the final destination is unknown, the carpets’ status as magical, floating objects encourages marvel at that which is not wholly understood rather than containment and control.