Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fighting Torture with Art

"The Columbian artist Fernando Botero has produced a brilliant collection of life-sized paintings depicting the horrors of Abu Ghraib. The works show prisoners bound and gagged, stacked on top of each other, and being beaten by American soldiers. The paintings have a haunting, frenzied feeling to them, like Pieter Bruegel's medieval 'The Triumph of Death', where the artist conjures up a scene of armies clashing while wagon-loads of skulls are carried across an apocalyptic-looking landscape.

"Abu Ghraib is the entryway into that same world. Botero captures the look of desperation on men's faces when there is no expectation of justice. He confronts his audience with the bloody stanchions that support the new world order and the increasing number of innocent victims required to keep them upright. This isn't the stuff you'll see in the media, where America's war crimes are concealed behind a heavy lacquer of flowery rhetoric and optimistic predictions. These pictures are the real deal, like the grinding violence and humiliation produced by a brutal occupation.


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