Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Botero - the metamorphosis of a painter

At my favorite conservative art blog, art-for-a-change (see this wonderful post, deeply offended by some recent performances), I discovered the new paintings of Fernando Botero, the painter famous for his fairly light-hearted, round-shaped figures, often reproducing masterpieces in his unique shapely manner.

Well, Botero's painting has changed. Dramatically.

"I, like everyone else, was shocked by the barbarity, especially because the United States is supposed to be this model of compassion." The artist was so upset about what the US had done in Iraq that he set out to create a series of paintings that would forever etch the crime upon the collective consciousness of humanity.

But Botero’s paintings are not so much inspired by the appalling photos as they are by the written descriptions of the cruelty. All of the artist’s paintings in the series are based upon actual testimonies that came out of the prison scandal, and Botero’s paintings are imbued with an unflinching and indignant moral outrage.

Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib series is part of a larger exhibition of 150 of his works slated to open in Rome on June 16th of this year. The show then travels to Germany, and in 2006 the exhibit is scheduled to come to the United States. Botero has said his Abu Ghraib paintings will not be included in the US show -unless museums specifically ask for them. Given that the owner of the Capobianco Gallery in San Francisco was assaulted, threatened with death, and run out of business in May of 2004 for showing a painting by Guy Colwell that also depicted US soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib -it might be wise of Botero to exercise caution when exhibiting his masterworks in the US.
I wouldn't be as quick as the author of the aforementioned blog to call Botero's series the new Guernica (it's always a very slippery affair, comparing anyone with Picasso), but it does make a powerful impression.

There is an Associated Press article about it on this page.

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