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Index on Censorship is delighted to announce the auction of an incredible collection of cartoons that celebrate the power of art to challenge suppression. The auction will help fund our work supporting persecuted writers and artists worldwide.
Earlier this year, Index commissioned 10 of the world’s leading cartoonists to pen a work on the theme of free expression. The cartoons are powerful tributes to the role of art, drawn by world-renowned artists from every continent: from a US Pulitzer Prize winner to a Syrian cartoonist beaten in retaliation for his work.
Beginning Tuesday, 24 November 2015, bidders will be able to enter bids for hand-drawn artwork by:
Xavier Bonilla (Bonil) – Ecuador
Regularly denounced, threatened and fined, Ecuador’s Bonil has earned the title “the pursued cartoonist” for his work. For 30 years he has critiqued, lampooned and ruffled the feathers of Ecuador’s political leaders, in the process earning a reputation as one of the wittiest and most fearless cartoonists in South America.
Kevin Kallaugher (Kal) – United States
US artist Kal is the editorial cartoonist for The Economist and The Baltimore Sun and his work has appeared in more than 100 publications worldwide including Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and The Washington Post. He has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Grand Prix for Cartoon of the Year.
Signe Wilkinson (Signe) – United States
The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, Signe has won several other awards for her work. She comments on topical political issues and is best known for her daily cartoons in The Philadelphia Daily News.
Jean Plantureux (Plantu) – France
Plantu is the chief cartoonist for France’s Le Monde and founder of Cartooning for Peace, a global network of cartoonists. This drawing is a rare, signed copy of the world-famous cartoon Plantu drew for Le Monde the day after the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
Martin Rowson – UK
A former Cartoonist Laureate, political satirist Martin Rowson contributes cartoons to The Guardian and the Daily Mirror as well as Index on Censorship magazine. His work has earned him several awards, including the prize for the Best Humour and Satire Book of the Year at this year’s Political Book Awards.
Ali Farzat – Syria
Ali Farzat, a former Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winner, came to global attention in 2011 when he was pulled from his car and beaten by Syrian security forces who broke both his hands. When Kuwaiti authorities closed the offices of his newspaper, Al-Watan, earlier this year Ferzat was forced to buy new materials and redrew this cartoon for us from scratch.
Doaa El Adl (Doaa) – Egypt
Doaa is a celebrated female artist in the Arab world – well know for her fearless political work. She has often tackled freedom of speech, human rights and women’s rights issues, wining numerous awards as well as controversy and even charges of blasphemy for her work.
Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar) – Malaysia
Zunar is an award-winning Malaysian political cartoonist who has been repeatedly targeted by authorities. Five of his cartoon books have been banned by the Malaysian government for carrying content “detrimental to public order” and thousands confiscated. He is currently facing up to 43 years in jail for mocking the government.
David Rowe – Australia
A three-time winner of the Stanley Award for Australia’s Cartoonist of the Year, David Rowe has worked for the Australian Financial Review for 22 years. Rowe’s bright and colourful watercolours are famously merciless.
Damien Glez – (Glez) – Burkina Faso
Glez’s cartoons regularly appear across three continents, including his own weekly satirical newspaper in Burkina Faso: Le Journal du Jeudi . He co-created pan-African monthly satirical Le Marabout, writes his own comic strip Divine Comedy and has won numerous awards internationally..
Bids must be placed by noon on Monday, 14 December 2015.
The auction is being hosted by Givergy.
Bonil is the pen name for Xavier Bonilla, an Ecuador-based editorial cartoonist who draws for several national newspapers, particularly El Universo. For 30 years he has critiqued, lampooned and ruffled the feathers of Ecuador’s political leaders, earning a reputation as one of the wittiest and most fearless cartoonists in South America.
More recently, Bonil has gained a new epithet – “the pursued cartoonist” is how Spanish newspaper El Pais recently styled him. Bonil’s work had regularly attracted the ire of incumbent president Rafael Correa. But in 2014 anger escalated to retribution, the president publicly denounced Bonil and threatened him with legal action on two separate occasions – the first was successful against Bonil, and the second is ongoing.
President Correa has been in constant battle with the domestic press since first being elected in 2007. He has reprimanded journalists critical of the state through a combination of crippling fines and smear campaigns on his weekly TV show. In response to a 2012 article in El Universo calling him a dictator, he charged the paper with criminal libel – leading editors were sentenced to three years each in prison, and the paper was fined $42 million.
On that occasion, international pressure led Correa to pardon the newspaper at the 11th hour. But in June 2013 he introduced a new communications law which, under the guise of promoting freedom of expression, codified the repression of political journalism. It ordained that “information of public interest received through the media should be verified, balanced, contextualized and opportune” – meaning the government had the ultimate say on whether a journalist’s work was appropriate.
Bonil was the first individual to be targeted by the legislation. In December 2013, police raided the apartment of Fernando Villavicencio, a journalist and adviser to an opposition party, and took his computers and files. Villavicencio had claimed to own documents revealing government corruption. Correa alleged that Villavicencio had illegally hacked into government emails.
Bonil’s depiction of the incident (see below), published in El Universo the following day, took Villavicencio’s side. Correa publicly denounced the cartoon, calling Bonil “sick”, “cowardly” and “an ink assassin”. He called for an investigation which led to Bonil and El Universo being dragged before a media regulatory agency, which fined El Universo $92,000 and ordered Bonil to draw a “retraction” cartoon (also below) within three days. In this version, dripping with sarcasm, comically polite officers give a bunch of flowers to Villavicencio, who in turn begs the police to take away his belongings.
Bonil attracted further government attention when, in August 2014, he drew a cartoon ridiculing star footballer-turned-statesman Agustín “El Tin” Delgado. A viral video had showed El Tin struggling to read through a speech in parliament. Bonil’s cartoon suggested that ridicule of El Tin was justified, given his sizeable government salary. President Correa has since repeatedly denounced Bonil as racist and called the cartoon a “hate crime” – a charge which can carry a three-year prison sentence. Bonil has responded that the cartoon had no racial element.
Video: Vicky Baker | Text: Will Haydon