Antonio Martorell Removes His Paintings from the Supreme Court

In early November, outraged by what he considers to be infringements of the Supreme Court in Puerto Rico, leading painter Antonio Martorell called on President Federico Hernández Denton to withdraw his works exhibited at the court.

The artist stated in a letter to Hernández Denton that “the disgrace ailing your institution forces me to withdraw the triptych entitled ‘Escarabajo’ [Beetle] located in the foyer of the court library and the diptych entitled ‘Espejuelos’ [Glasses] found in the Office of the Chief Justice, both of which I had lent with so much enthusiasm.” Martorell stressed, “I cannot and do not want to beautify the stage where infamy is perpetrated by the blatant abuse of governmental authority.”

He sent his letter to the Chief Justice a day after the legislature approved a bill to increase the number of judges of the Supreme Court from seven to nine, at the request of four pro-statehood judges in the highest court in the country. The artist said, “once more, a politically partisan power that to our misfortune governs our country’s fate, mercilessly invades the realms of freedom and democracy,” adding that “We live under the dictates of a poorly oriented electoral majority, which not satisfied with its control of the executive and legislative branches, are now imposing on judicial independence.” Martorell believes that the Supreme Court now joins the list of institutions that have been transformed into “victims of a totalitarian government that attempts to control and dominate all administrative levels of Puerto Rico, turning the island into a private hunting ground reserved for its power.”

The artist was later videotaped and interviewed as he oversaw the removal of his work from the court in mid-November. In this interview, he describes justice as “no longer that lady with blindfolded eyes and scales in one hand and a sword in the other” but now “she no longer has the sword or the scales. She has now been thrown legs up in the air on a banquet table. She is a violated Justice.”

For full article (in Spanish) and a video of the artist being interviewed as he oversees the removal of his work, see

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