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Uruguayan Police Censor Art Gallery’s Nude Painting of Ex-President

The BBC reports that Uruguayan art dealer Diana Saravia was summoned to a local police station after exhibiting a work by Julio de Sosa titled Uruguay’s Genesis. The controversy? Sosa’s painting depicts former president (and current senator) José “Pepe” Mujica, along with his wife, senator Lucía Topolansky, in the nude. The couple is represented as Adam and Eve, and appear seated under a tree.

Local media report that the police showed up at Saravia’s gallery and, without a warrant, removed the painting, citing “orders from above.” Saravia was also taken to a police station, where she agreed to remove the painting from view. Mujica, the ex-president, reportedly said of the situation, “They have the right to earn a few pesos, but I think things have a limit.” Meanwhile, the artist expressed astonishment, claiming the work was a tribute.

On her Facebook page, Saravia wrote an update translated by the Panampost as follows:

“Everyone knows I’m a public, hardworking and honest person, and I fight every day to promote and keep active a small portion of our national artistic production. I try to give emerging artists a chance with lesser-known works, which may not please everyone and perhaps are not so perfect, but I look for something different in them.

In this case, I saw a share of humor in the painting of this young artist. In times of ‘drought,’ in times of crisis, in times when the desire to buy or appreciate art is suppressed, it’s necessary.

Support for artistic expression is necessary, and it is necessary to be free to express it. Art is free, and I think it is not right to condemn it.”