The Museo Nacional de la Acuarela ‘Alfredo Guati Rojo’ in Mexico City has refused to display a painting by Colombian artist Darío Ortiz Robledo, considering it “too hard and offensive for some sensibilities”, due to its mix of nudity and religious symbols, reported Mexican newspaper La Jornada on 8 March 2016.
In an interview with the newspaper, an official from the museum said they refused to display Ortiz Robledo’s ‘After’ because the public wasn’t “prepared to see it”. The watercolor painting is a self-portrait in which the painter is dressed as a tired, semi-naked bishop resting in the company of two sensually-posed women, one of whom is also semi-naked.
The decision to ban the watercolor painting was made on 26 February, just days before the museum opened its ‘Pensando en Grande’ (Thinking Big) exhibition, a collection of big format watercolors selected by the International Watercolor Society (IWS), which the artist is part of.
At first Ortiz Robledo thought the decision was a “joke” as this has never happened to him before. His previous works have been exhibited without problems in countries such as China and Ecuador, despite various controversial references and critiques of the Catholic Church.
According to the painter, the museum had previously agreed to show all his paintings that were part of the IWS collection as long as they fit the exhibition’s theme of being big format watercolors.
Ortiz Robledo managed to contact the museum’s public relations coordintaor Paola Espino and tried, without luck, to get a written document explaining the reasons for his work being banned. Espino did not provide the document and simply offered the same reason that audiences would not be “prepared for his work”.
Immediately after, the Colombian painter took to social media and major news outlets to explain his work being censored, going so far as to say via his Facebook account that “it seems that there are still those who don’t know that the Inquisition finished two centuries ago, and want to impose their ideas and questionable criterion”.
The museum’s website has made no comments about the painting ban so far.
» Milenio TV – 10 March 2016:
Painter denounces censorship; his work is retired from the Museo Nacional de la Acuarela
» National Aquarelle Museum ‘Alfredo Guati Rojo’ – 10 March 2016:
‘Thinking Big’ exhibition
» La Jornada – 8 March 2016:
Colombian artist denounces censorship from the Museo Nacional de la Acuarela
» International Watercolor Society, Facebook status – 1 March 2016:
The Director of the National Museum of Watercolor notified me that this work was censored
» Darío Ortiz Robledo, Facebook status – 29 February 2016:
They don’t know the inquisition ended 200 years ago