Painting Abu Ghraib

“Naked figures writhe in an eerie darkness. Vicious beasts bare their teeth and snarl. The faces of lost souls cry out in unimaginable agony, forced into strange and contorted positions reminiscent of crucifixion. Such a vision evokes a scene of the apocalypse typical of 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. But no, these paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero are depictions of real events. Despite their hellish subject matter, they are all meticulously based on photographs and press accounts of the torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003.” Having made their way from Europe, they’re now on view in New York.