Critics’ Picks

Ebecho Muslimova, Fatebe Self Possession, 2017, acrylic and gouache on canvas, 42 x 60".

Ebecho Muslimova, Fatebe Self Possession, 2017, acrylic and gouache on canvas, 42 x 60".

New York

Ebecho Muslimova

Magenta Plains
149 Canal Street
January 7–February 11, 2018

It’s one thing for a woman to be nasty; it’s quite another thing for her to be unapologetically fat. A little over a year ago, before the #MeToo movement showed the power of collective voices by calling out sexual abusers, Donald Trump deflected criticism, during the presidential debates, about his misogynist attitudes by throwing Rosie O’Donnell’s body up as a rhetorical shield. Add Rosie to a list of full-figured feminists who are brash, excessive, and unafraid of men’s opinions of their bodies. Also enter Fatebe, the flexible, bug-eyed, ultravoluptuous avatar of the Russian-born artist Ebecho Muslimova. This exhibition is Muslimova’s first to include both drawings and paintings of a ribald character that, through an assortment of poses both banal and coquettish, frequently flashes her vagina or anus.

In the ink-and-gouache drawing Fatebe 2017 Show (all works 2017), Muslimova makes artistic doubt a poignant subject: Fatebe tumbles headfirst down a flight of stairs into a basement gallery—namely, the exact space where this show is installed. One breast flops around as another gets dipped into a fecal-looking liquid covering the floor. In Fatebe Asparagus Pee, Muslimova depicts Fatebe as a fertility goddess that is as modern as she is abject. She clutches stalks of the vegetable—once grouped into the same family as the lily, a classical fertility symbol—in her arms, while dozens more are shoved down her throat. She also straddles a pyramid of toilet paper.

Several other paintings return to the theme of self-examination. In the colorful Fatebe Rack, a take on Narcissus, she seems to be examining her vagina in the surface of a kiddy pool while trapped in a laundry rack. Fatebe Self Possession satirizes Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo: Fatebe films into her wide-open vagina, where three miniature Fatebes navigate a winding spiral staircase that exposes some carpeting (get the joke?) right out of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.