Paul Maire is primarily a poet but his paintings have a political force, a brutality, that stops you dead in your tracks. Many of the paintings here are from a series called ‘The Dictators’ and refer to Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression and terror that involved the assassinations and intelligence operations by right-wing dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil during the 1970’s. Supported by America the operation aimed to eradicate communist influence and opposition movements and led to the deaths of at least 60.000 people.
The effects of these repressions are still strongly felt in South America and Maire’s paintings tackle it full on, the carnival colours of the Americas juxtaposed with the blatant violence of the regimes. The compositions, while figurative, go further, they are symbolic, metaphorical, with Maire taking on the culture of politics and religion, the collaboration between the dictators and the Catholic church, the terror, the innocents and the victims.
There are wonderful narratives going on in these paintings with Maire portraying the dictatorships as brutal figures, flayed animals, full of lust, power and greed, devoid of humanity. His figures are truly a manifestation of pure terror while his colours and energetic gestures dramatize the horrific scenes of brutality.