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Roberto Pacheco (b. 1951), Preparations for War (Madrid 1936), 1989; maple, steel, concrete, wire and paint, 20 1/2 x 17 x 6 3/4 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Artist, 1991

Roberto Pacheco (b. 1951), Preparations for War (Madrid 1936), 1989; maple, steel, concrete, wire and paint, 20 1/2 x 17 x 6 3/4 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of the Artist, 1991

Roberto Pacheco was born in 1951 in Cuzco, Peru, which was considered by the Incans to be The Center of the World. He spent most of his youth in the capital city of Lima; but left the country when the military forced the closings of educational institutions, foreshadowing the imminent loss of many personal freedoms. Much of his work addresses the politics and heritage of his former home.

Pacheco earned a bachelor’s degree in sculpture from Buffalo State College and a Master of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he has taught. In his work, Preparations for War (Madrid 1936), the artist uses raw materials to symbolize historic turmoil. A dialogue of contrasts and tensions is set up by the artist’s use of a jaggedly hewn maple slab with roughly cut steel and concrete rectangles held together with rusted wire, nails and red paint.  The composition alludes to imprisonment and rough terrain, echoing the impending three-year Spanish Civil War, which began when right-wing insurgents led by General Francisco Franco sieged Madrid in July 1936. In August, the United States announced that it would not interfere, and by April 1937, Franco declared Spain a totalitarian state and he assumed power as dictator. Concurrent with those events, Congress passed, and President Roosevelt signed, a Neutrality Act.

Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar, Head of Collections, Charles Cary Rumsey Curator