boston

Lalla Essaydi

Miller Yezerski Gallery

Moroccan-born, New York–based photographer Lalla Essaydi lures the viewer into her third solo show at Howard Yezerski Gallery (the inaugural exhibition in its new space) with a pair of stunning large-scale pictures hung in the front window. Each depicts an Arab woman covered in calligraphy and posed to imitate a famous nineteenth-century Orientalist painting. Fumée d’Ambre Gris (The Smoke of Amber-gris), 2008, which features a young woman lifting her white veil to draw in the titular aphrodisiac, is based on Sargent’s 1880 painting of the same name. The Grande Odalisque, 2008, in parodying Ingres’s famous painting of a nude girl languishing in a Turkish harem, also critiques Western exploitation of Eastern women. In her contemporary version, Essaydi rejects the distorted, dreamy, and nude portrayal found in Ingres’s “gentle- man’s” painting, instead creating a realistic, clothed figure:

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