Art and Abu Ghraib

Toronto Star | November 24, 2007

 

 

 

The paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero show Americans torturing Iraqis at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Tim Harper
Washington Bureau

The man doing the waterboarding is a strangely disengaged torturer, representing either cool professionalism or emotionless evil.

The abusers are portrayed as army boots on the back of the abused, latex gloves on a naked body.

They are represented by a stream of urine that starts off canvas or invisible hands holding snarling dogs with their teeth bared.

The abused are hooded or blindfolded, naked or in women’s underwear, bloody, anguished, their bodies bloated and overdrawn in almost iconic Christian poses.

This is the work of 75-year-old Colombian artist Fernando Botero, who has taken oils, charcoal, watercolours and his anger at the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and produced a series of 79 works that evoke the brutality and inhumanity of the torture that was revealed to the world in 2004.

The works first shocked audiences in Europe.

Now they are hanging in a museum in the U.S. capital, a handful of subway stops from the White House.

A visit to the exhibit is a punch to the stomach.

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