Welcome to Colombia (1986) is an archetypal work from the 1980s that masterfully combines elements of still life, portraiture, and abstraction in a lighter, more colourful palette typical of Scherman’s work during this period. The result is an edgy contemporary interior scene depicting a Colombian drug baron seated at a dining table adorned with an unconventional still life of platters bearing fruit and cocaine. The domestic scene is completed by the inclusion of a faithful dog and a semi-abstracted figure of a woman. The male figure stares brazenly back at the viewer, as though we have happened upon a private scene that we are not meant to see. Scherman deliberately leaves the background abstract, urging the viewer to interact with the subject of the work.
Scherman’s work is informed by an in-depth study of art history and the evolution of traditional Western genres. Strongly reminiscent of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting, which often depicted interior scenes of debauched behaviour, Welcome to Colombia presents the viewer with a strikingly provocative scene that references both topical contemporary events and art-historical tradition.