This text appeared in the catalogue for Patricia Israel. El deseo de Antígona, the exhibition presented at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago, Chile (October 2 to November 11, 2001).
Patricia Israel, an important figure in contemporary Chilean painting, created an expressionist figuration based on drawing in her graphic works and paintings with which she (formally, materially, and intellectually) addressed Latin American reality, historical situation, and social and political commitment in line with her vision of an “artist-citizen.” She went into exile in 1974, after the military coup d’état, and kept working in Venezuela and Argentina. She returned to Chile in 1980, when the mass protests against the dictatorship began.
The democratic transition process that Mellado uses to contextualize his analysis began in Chile with the 1988 National Plebiscite (a referendum on whether or not Augusto Pinochet should remain in power), which, after seventeen years, led to the first democratically elected president. The particular nature of this transition, which was agreed to by consensus and with no apparent break or interruption (either due to an overthrow of the government or the death of the dictator), meant that many aspects of the dictatorship were preserved in Chilean society and the country’s political system. The criticism of the State’s inaction that is mentioned in the text took place ten years after the Rettig Report (1991), whose investigation was focused on identifying those who had been murdered or disappeared and establishing, finally, where they were buried. The new president, Patricio Aylwin, created the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in the very early days of his administration expressly to handle the process of recognition and reparation.