Fernando Botero is usually associated with bubbly innocuous figures, popular with art lovers all over the world. He's been using the same style to directly attack the issue of torture. His even handed way of rendering the human form, in all its solidity, makes this new series feel tremendously heavy, drawing attention to the universal experience of people who are made to suffer.
Robert Ayers, of Art News, interviewed Botero about his exhibition, which opened for the first time in the US yesterday at Marlborough Gallery on 57th Street, in New York.
"What happened in Abu Ghraib was a tremendous shock to the whole world. I believe that I have special responsibilities as an artist, and I wanted to say something about it. The artist has the ability to make invisible things visible.
Like everyone else, I was very shocked to know that the Americans were doing the same things that Saddam Hussein had done. Especially now that we know that it wasn’t just a few rotten apples.
The fact that I’ve done painting with pleasant subject matter doesn’t make it impossible for me to do work on a subject that touched me very much. Fortunately, I’m a figurative artist, and I can speak directly."
[Read the rest of the Fernando Botero interview, over at Art Info News]
[image: "Abu Ghraib 44" (triptych) (2005)]