Oil on canvas 40X50cm
My great friend and painter Jay Huddelston once told me: "(...)You expressed disappointment with the influence art and artists are able to have over politics and social justice. I think our role is largely philosophical - like Socrates: "I am the gadfly." We serve by asking questions, and the visual and performing arts pose the questions in a vital way - through imagery - that people are able to understand and be touched by even if they wouldn't read an essay or even trouble with an editorial opinion in a newspaper. The most ordinary peasant can see Guernica and know the Spanish Civil War was evil, that Fascism is evil or they can see a play or a movie and come away with knowledge about AIDS or Islam or blood diamonds that they could have learned from National Geographic but they had no interest in reading. Just as songs are an improvement on poetry, art helps people digest philosophy. We cannot stop the war in Iraq, but we can question it, and we condemn the people responsible. Bush will be hated until the end of time - Art is eternal."
When I decided to paint about Abu Ghraib prison (inspired by Huddelston and Diego Rivera) I tried to find a shocking image that could express all the sickness and sadism of those specific american soldiers. Somehow I could see pleasure (almost sexual) in the face of the tortures in the Abu Ghraib pictures that were made famous worldwide after the Taguba Report in 2004.