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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Portuguese billionaire adds works inspired by Bamiyan Buddhas to his vast sculpture park

José Berardo plans to add sculpture by Fernando Botero and Tony Cragg among others to Quinta dos Loridos north of Lisbon

By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 01 January 2013
José Berardo's sculpture was initially created in homage to the sixth-century Bamiyan Buddhas, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001

The Portuguese billionaire José Berardo has added an homage to the sixth-century Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 to his sculpture park in Quinta dos Loridos, north of Lisbon. “We have not recreated the Buddhas themselves, rather we commissioned 6,000 tons of stone sculptures from [Chinese] artisans in the Shijiazhuang area,” says Zaid Abdali, the project manager, adding “6,000 tons being the estimated weight of the lost sculptures”. There are 1,217 sculptures dotted around the 35-hectare park, which has opened in phases since 2006. There is even an army of 45 terracotta warriors based on the real one discovered protecting the tomb of the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.

On 26 February 2001, the leader of the then Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, issued an order calling for the destruction of “all statues of non-Islamic shrines located in the different parts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. Within five days the Taliban said it had destroyed two-thirds of the country’s statues, including the Bamiyan Valley’s colossal Buddhas. Berardo, the chairman of the investment company Metalgest, says he was “profoundly shocked” by the iconoclasm, prompting the ambitious sculpture project. 

A new area dedicated to Modern and contemporary sculpture, due to open by this summer, will feature gargantuan works by Fernando Botero (Male Torso, 1992), Tony Cragg (Line of Thought, 2006) and Danny Lane (Stairway, 2005). 

Lynn Chadwick’s stainless steel sculpture Ace of Diamonds III, 2003, and Zadok Ben-David’s bronze female figure Looking Back, 2005, also due to go on display. They were bought in 2007 by the collector from the Cass Sculpture Foundation, a charitable trust based in Goodwood in the south of England. Wilfred Cass, the charity’s co-founder, told The Art Newspaper in March 2007 that at the time, the number of works sold to Berardo was the largest single purchase ever made from the foundation by a foreign collector. Berardo’s acquisition budget for the park is undisclosed.

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