Antonio and Rosa Diptych 2013

They called it "the Singing Room", and sometimes "the Barbeque" which is closer to what it really was: a torture chamber. 

They were held in the basement of a police station in 1970s Argentina ruled by a murderous dictatorship.

And it was bad, what they did to Antonio Savone, but it was much worse for Rosa Gomez, the woman whose cries he heard from the cell facing his.

I decided to draw Rosa and Antonio's eyes after hearing a broadcast on CBC radio. 

In it Antonio Savone reflects on his experience as a political prisoner before fleeing Argentina and immigrating to Canada. 

Antonio and Rosa never really saw each other. They only knew each other's voices and eyes. 

Listening to the interview I was reminded yet again of the despicable cruelty. I was observing my thirteen years old son' reaction.

He was devastated, I saw horror in his flooded by tears eyes. 

And then my own despair lifted. 

This time I was reminded of compassion and resilience, reminded that even just an eye contact can sustain.

Beyond political statement Antonio's and Rosa's gaze compels me to think of solitude and pain, confronts me with my entanglements in trivialities of life and harps on this this need to grasp the meaning of it all.

This is what I see in a portrait; a specific person faced with being a human.

I applied varnish to “Antonio and Rosa” diptych. The surface of the drawing became slick and glossy; pleasingly beautiful. 

It made my stomach turn. I turned the profound into banal. I put gloss over suffering, pain and despair, unwitting agent of comfort and consumption.

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