Exhibit of Botero ‘Abu Ghraib’ artworks, on loan from Berkeley, opens at Chilean human-rights museum

Thirty-seven paintings and drawings from Fernando Botero’s “Abu Ghraib” series, donated by the Colombian artist to UC Berkeley three years ago, are currently on display in Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

Museum exterior

Chile's Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos

News of Botero’s Abu Ghraib exhibit — at a museum designed to honor victims of human-rights abuses during the Pinochet regime — has received much attention in the Chilean press, from major newspapers to TV and radio channels.

UC Berkeley professor Beatriz Manz, who was instrumental in bringing the Abu Ghraib series to the Santiago museum, sums up the importance of the exhibit for her native land: “Chile is a country that has successfully been able to look toward the future, and is one of the few [countries] that pays tribute to memory. It is a milestone to bring Botero there.”

The artist himself, in a recent interview, called the Museum of Memory and Human Rights “an ideal site for this series. Chile lived through the Pinochet dictatorship [1973-90], the torture, the disappeared. All of that horror is reflected in these paintings, the cruelty of man to man.”

The exhibition, made possible through a collaboration of the Museum of Memory, UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and the Berkeley Art Museum, runs March 15 through June 24. A faculty delegation from Berkeley attended the opening.

CLAS is publishing dispatches from the exhibit, posting a webcast of a panel discussion at its launch, and hosting campus events this spring related to the show. See its website for details.