"Decoración de interiores (Interior decoration)", 1981

Screenprint on canvas

Exhibition view: documenta14, Athens, Greece, 2017
Photo: Mathias Voelzke

„Decoración de Interiores (Interior Decoration)“ was Beatriz González’s first explicitly political work. Originally 140 metres wide, the curtain depicts Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, who was president in Colombia from 1978 to 1982. Turbay is portrayed as he leisurely entertains a coterie of guests at a private function. The figures appear to interact, laugh, sip champagne and sing, their bodies forming a repeating pattern in orange, green and brown across the surface. Instead of showing the violence perpetrated by his government, which included arbitrary detentions and torture, González chose to depict Turbay in a festive mode, apparently unperturbed by the atrocities of his governmental policy and untouched by the concerns of the Colombian people. To produce this work González systematically collected images featuring the statesman outside official functions from popular magazines and newspapers; these included pictures of him drinking, mingling, dancing and going from party to party. She then chose an image and mechanically transferred the photograph onto a sheet of paper, reworking it with coloured pencils and tempera. The artist’s use of the curtain and palette of muted, fashionable colours suggests the everyday concealment of this violence behind a façade of glamour. Likening it to a shower curtain, González also gave her curtain a metaphorical impact, suggesting that the institutional curtain of Turbay’s government concealed something corrupt and sinister that needed to be swept aside in order to restore peace and clarity. González’s work presents an ironic, modern day twist on the role of court painter; the artist depicted the powerful leader of her country yet undermined his authority, by relegating his image to the status of utilitarian, domestic decoration.

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