Jim Dine, 1977
Leon Golub’s often harrowing paintings express his commitment to the idea that art can effect social and political change. It was not until the 1980s that his monumental canvases finally received widespread critical and popular attention. One of three depictions of brutal torture sessions that Golub painted in 1981, Interrogation II was sparked by human rights violations in El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America. The work depicts four mercenaries and their naked, hooded victim, who is bound to a chair. The rawness of this scene is reinforced by Golub’s technique of scraping the applied paint down to the tooth of the canvas. An image of cruel intensity, Interrogation II is made even more disturbing by the torturers’ grinning faces and the direct eye contact they make with the viewer, drawing us into an uncomfortable complicity.