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Fernando Botero
"Familia" (1989)
"Familia" (1989)

Fernando Botero (born 1932) is a Colombian artist who by his own admission is "the most Colombian of Colombian artists." He strives in all his work to capture an essential part of himself and his subjects through color and form. His work includes still-life and landscapes, but Botero tends to primarily focus on situational portraiture. His paintings and sculptures are, on first examination, noted for their exaggerated proportions and the corpulence of the human figures and animal figures. The "fat people" are often thought by critics to satirize the subjects and situations that Botero chooses to paint. Botero explains his use of obese figures and forms as such: "An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it." He is an abstract artist in the most fundamental sense of the word, choosing what colors, shapes, and proportions to use based on intuitive aesthetic thinking. This being said, his works are informed by a Colombian upbringing and social commentary is woven all throughout his work.

Botero was born in Medellín, whose Catholic churches still maintained the Baroque style. His upbringing was marked by isolation from the traditional art venues such as museums and other cultural infrastructures. His Colombian heritage thus informs his art.

In early 2004, Botero donated a magnificious series of 23 oil paintings and 27 drawings depicting different elements of the country's longlasting violence, created between 1999 and 2004, to the National Museum of Colombia, which were first publicly displayed between May 4 and June 11. [1]

In early 2005, Botero revealed a series of 50 paintings that graphically represent the controversial Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal, expressing the rage and shock that the incident provoked in the artist. The works will be initially presented in expositions throughout Europe. Botero doesn't plan to sell the paintings, but instead intends to donate them to museums as a reminder of the events depicted within. [2][3] [4]

When Colombian children go to church they see all these Madonnas, so clean and perfect. In South America china-like perfection is very much a part of the ideal of beauty. More so even than the polychrome wood sculptures in Spain, Latin American sculptures look like porcelain. So, in contrast to Europe or North America, you connect the notions of art and beauty at a very early age. I grew up with the idea that art is beauty. All my life I've been trying to produce art that's beautiful to discover all the elements that go to make up visual perfection. When you come from my background you can’t be spoilt by beauty, because you've ever really seen it. If you're born in Paris, say, you can see art everywhere, so by the time you come to create art yourself you’re spoilt – you're tired of beauty as such and want to do something else. With me it was quite different. I wasn't tired of beauty; I was hungering for it. (Fernando Botero Paintings and Drawings. Ed. Werner Spies. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1992.(Translated from German edition Fernando Botero: Bilder, Zeichnungen, Skulpturen.)
 
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