Botero’s works on Abu Ghraib in Milan, Italy

Fernando Botero and painting on Abu Ghraib

From ANSA news agency in Italy:

Botero‘s ‘torture series’ in Milan

Abu Ghraib works part of broader show on Columbian artist

Rome, July 12 – Fernando Botero‘s harrowing paintings inspired by the torture Iraqi inmates suffered from US troops at Abu Ghraib prison go on show in Milan on Friday [see video here].

The series, made up of around 40 works, is part of a broader exhibition at the city’s Palazzo Reale devoted to the Columbian, who is Latin America’s most famous living artist.

In total 150 works created over the last 10 years and selected by the artist himself will be on display until September 16.

Botero, 75, rose to artistic fame thanks to his distinctive sculptures and brightly-coloured paintings of smooth, rotund people and animals.

This style made him one of the world’s most commercially successful artists and his ‘fat people’ can be seen in countless museum collections around the world.

For most of his career, Botero steered clear of making political statements with his art.

Then at the end of the 1990s he took an abrupt change of course and started to represent the kidnappings, shootouts, massacres and misery drug wars cause in his native Colombia. Outrage at the sexual abuse, humiliation and torture captured on photos from Abu Ghraib that emerged in 2004 convinced Botero to continue down this darker path.

The subjects of the Abu Ghraib works retain Botero’s trademark roundness. Usually this gives his work a sense of balance and tranquillity, but here the puffiness of the naked flesh serves to highlight the victims’ vulnerability.

One of the works shows tied-up, hooded prisoners stacked in a human pyramid, while another portrays an American soldier swinging a blood-stained club at the head of a helpless man.

A drawing of a blindfolded man screaming as a guard dog snarls in his face is particularly distressing.

The lighter side of the artist can be seen in a selection of 15 oil paintings and 25 drawings dedicated to the world of the circus.

Botero is a big fan of Mexican circus and manages to capture its charm, characters and colours with skill and humour. The final section is made up of a mix of 70 recent works.

These include ‘traditional’ Botero paintings of everyday subjects and situations, like fat ladies gobbling up food, couples dancing the tango and naked lovers embracing in hotel rooms.

This part of the show also features some of the above-mentioned representations of strife in Colombia, such as his depiction of the death of drug lord Pablo Escobar.

4 thoughts on “Botero’s works on Abu Ghraib in Milan, Italy

  1. Pingback: Iraqi Women Face Increased Violence in Kurdistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings may get permanent home in California | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Resistance and art, from the 1871 Paris Commune to today’s Iraq war. Part I | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Botero’s Abu Ghraib art, reviewed by Erica Jong | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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