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The Abu Ghraib Series 

When: Oct. 16-Feb. 7 2010

The waterboarding of Iraqi detainees by US troops was mocked by many Fox-bitten supporters of our misadventure in Iraq, but the Abu Ghraib photographs that surfaced in 2004 were indefensible and disgraceful: naked captives, attack dogs, electrical wires, sexual taunting. (Close your eyes and think of LynndieEngland et al.-- and their legalistically fig-leafed superiors.) The Colombian painter Fernando Boterowas inspired by this madness to create, over fourteen months, a series of 56 paintings and drawings, featuring his trademark plus-sized doll-like figures as jailer and victim; the works draw on and join a history of martyrdom depictions both religious (Michelangelo, Rubens) and secular (Goya, Bacon, Golub). It's strong medicine; irresponsible neoconstandfasters, open wide. Botero generously donated the entire series to UC Berkeley. A minor quibble here: dim lighting. The Abu Ghraib Series runs through February 7 at BerkeleyArt Museum(2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). or 510-643-6494.

— DeWitt Cheng


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