“No one would have ever remembered the horrors of Guernica if not for the painting,” says famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
Botero refers to Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica,” which depicts the aerial bombardment of civilians during the Spanish Civil War. In his new series of paintings “Iraqi detainees are shown being beaten by American prison guards, made to wear women’s lingerie and suffering other abuse.”
“This conduct by the Americans was a total shock for me,” Botero told the Colombian magazine Diners in an interview. “I am increasingly sensitive to injustice, which makes my blood boil, and these paintings were born from the anger provoked by this horror.” More below:
The Bogota daily El Tiempo, commenting on the collection, wrote yesterday: “These are compositions determined by time and memory … that emanate a strange sensuality, which could be interpreted as an ironic commentary of infamous memories that inspired the work.” (The Independent)
Botero, who will not sell the paintings but will loan the works to museums, wants the series to be shown in the U.S. — “the matter concerns that country above all.”
The paintings are being shown in Italy, at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome, “the former residence of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini … Botero is the first living painter whose works will be shown there.”
“I, like everyone else, was shocked by the barbarity, especially because the United States is supposed to be this model of compassion,” Botero said in an interview from his art studio in Paris.
Botero has also depicted the killing of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar during a rooftop shootout and last year “held an exhibition in Bogota about Colombia’s 40-year-old guerrilla conflict.”
Perhaps someday he — or some other great artist — can paint the international tribunals of George W. Bush and his cohorts.
“Art Saves Lives”: The message of my bumpersticker, purchased at a native arts gallery in Pt. Townsend, WA.