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Debora Arango

Debora Arango was a Colombian artist, born in Medellin, Colombia as the daughter of Castor Maria Arango Diaz and Elvira Perez. Though she was primarily a painter, Arango also worked in other media, such as ceramics and graphic art. Throughout her career, Arango used her artwork to explore many politically charged and controversial issues, her subjects ranging from nude women to the role of the Roman Catholic Church to dictatorships.

In Train of Death, Arango paints lifeless bodies being taken away on a train, under the cloak of night. This alludes to an incident in 1913 in which 3000 banana plantation workers went on strike, and the Colombian government massacred them and got rid of their bodies. No one ever knew what happened to these people, so it was important that Arango was drawing attention to such an incident. The anonymity of the people depicted in Train of Death emphasizes the thoughtlessness of the slaughter of thousands of people for no reason, something that the Colombian government was continuing to do. In The cemetery of the riffraff and/or my head, Arango again brings attention to all the violence that is occurring in Colombia. The graveyard depicted can be viewed as the graveyard of people killed throughout "La Violencia", and an interesting part of this painting is how she includes her own head within the graveyard. This is important, as it emphasizes that she, or anyone else, could have been a part of these thoughtless massacres, even though they have done nothing wrong. Vultures are depicted in this painting as well, and, in Spanish, vultures are often called "chulos"; this is also what the people called the police at the time. This is Arango referencing the corruption in the government that was behind all this violence in Colombia, because these "chulos" were greatly feared by the people and were responsible for countless deaths. Though later artists painted images of the violence that was prevalent in Colombia at this time, Arango is significant because she was the first to paint, explore, and draw attention to these issues while "La Violencia" was going on.

1984: Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango; Bogota, Colombia

Related websites

Debora Arango, centenario de una rebelde. Por Sergio Esteban Velez

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