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Photos by Brian Addison.

Cuban artist Roberto Fabelo has an obsession with women—but a healthy obsession, as anyone who visits his first U.S. solo exhibit at Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) can see.

First off, he always places them on top, typically above or riding male roosters.

Fabelo 03Fabelo’s form of feminism isn’t militaristic nor is it subtle. It’s blatantly beautiful, sensual sometimes to the point of being sapphic, and captivatingly surrealistic, with his use of anthropomorphic masks to cover his ladies’ faces.

The artist often mixes mediums, whether it is taking a Chinese silk screening and painting both on and around the threading’s details or drawing grotesquely beautiful parts of anatomy on book pages, Fabelo’s art exudes a strange curiosity that lures its viewers in.

“My work is about relationships between people,” Fabelo told the Post while visiting MOLAA shortly before the exhibit opened last week. “And the rooster is not only symbolic of sustenance but has a universal value of masculinity attached to it. Since I come from a maschismo-driven culture, it makes me sympathetic toward and deeply respectful of women and their role.”

Fabelo claims an outright a “detestation” of the treatment of women not just in Cuba but throughout Latin America. His artistic positioning of women dominating roosters while wearing rooster masks is something that, at least for Fabelo, is actually about balance—not dominance. It is almost as if, were we to at least provide women the chance to dominate, the world will become more balanced.

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“These images of women and other creatures, there’s a sensuality represented,” Fabelo said. “The literary references and parables I tell through painting show the need for balance between men and women… And it is through sensuality—sensual forms of femininity and masculinity—that I find myself attracted to artistically.”

The forms Fabelo speaks of take shape by the way of fruit, animals, and various aspects of nature that he feels offers a direct metaphor for human sensuality, all of which have been inspired by his wife (who is also his muse).

Fabelo 04Often dubbed the “Cuban Daumier,” Fabelo’s work is within the national Cuban collection (despite its hidden criticism of the way with which his culture and government treats both its women and citizens) but the Fabelo’s Anatomy exhibit features entirely new works that have never been seen up until now. And given the limitations of Cuba’s resources—finding paper media let alone engaging on social media is beyond difficult—the array of pieces he offers to Long Beach are nothing short of impressive.

“Ultimately, it’s about an experience,” Fabelo said. “If I can take what I feel and imagine from the inspiration of my wife and put that outward, out to the people, I am happy.”

Museum of Latin American Art is located at 628 Alamitos Ave. Hour of operation are Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11:00AM to 5:00PM; and Friday from 11:00AM to 9:00PM. Admission is $9.00 General or $6.00 Students (w/ID); seniors (65+) Members and kids under 12 Free. Admission is free every Sunday. For more information, call 562-437-1689 or visit www.molaa.org

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