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Colombia: Painter and Sculptor Fernando Botero Celebrates 80

The Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero has been attending a series of events for the celebration of his 80 years of life which will be official April 19, 2012. These events have included private [es] and public events during Holy Week, including highlighting his donations to the Museum of Antioquia [es], the exposition [es] of “Stations of the Cross: the passion of Christ” and the official donation of the sculpture “The Cat” to his hometown Medellin.

“Stations of the Cross: the passion of Christ” is a combination of 27 oil paintings and 33 drawings completed in 2010.  The exposition arrived in Medellin after first being exhibited in Marlborough Gallery [es] in Manhattan, New York. The Marlborough exhibition will extend through August of this year, allowing time for a cultural and academic agenda that increased awareness of the artist and his works through conferences, panels, chats and audiovisual projections.

Fernando Botero, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

According to Botero, the “Stations of the Cross” has been reflected “in the eyes of a modern artist, allowing certain liberties like including himself and his mother [es] in the works.” He made the stations of the cross without satirical elements and with a Jesus figure more man than God, the aureola was not painted for example, but he does allude to the sacred with an angel that flies over the tomb. He said it was painted in a Latin American vibe with an Italian air.

His other celebration was held April 3, with the inauguration of his “The Cat” sculpture [es] in the park which carries his name in the city district of San Cristobal [es], Medellin. “The Cat” [es] is a bronze sculpture weighing 1.050 kilos, and measuring 390 x 150 x 190 centimeters and created in his workshop in Pietrasanta (Italy). This work adds to the many others [es] that Botero has so generously donated to Medellin and the 300 present across Colombia.

Many other events are being held in honor of his birthday, such as an exhibition [es] at the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico City. This will be a grand retrospective review of his works, combining a collection of 177 pieces including oil paintings, drawings, technical mixed pieces, small and large sculptures.

Botero, who made clear his desire [es] to be remembered for his untiring work, wants to continue making art with passion and enthusiasm. He also confirmed that he hasn't considered leaving art because he cannot conceive of life without painting. He recognizes Pietrasanta, Italy as a city he is fond of and where he passes the majority of his time developing his works [es]. He has done 160 international exhibitions, half in museums and the other half in open spaces [es] (streets, parks, etc).

During the celebrations for his birthday, Botero has been surrounded by many people but also by security, as captured in this photo [es] by Donaldo Zuluaga on Twitter (@donaldozuluaga). However he has demonstrated his delight in daily recognition when passing the streets of the city and the almost ‘idolatry’ that is felt for him. This reverent feeling can be seen in various media outlets promoting his presence [es], as well as social networks like Twitter and blogs.

Vanessa de la Torre, (@vanedelatorre) applauded [es] Botero for the new work donated to the city district of San Cristóbal:

Todos los aplausos al Maestro Fernando Botero por regalarle una escultura: El Gato, a su ciudad natal. Esta en San Cristóbal, Medellín

Standing ovation for Master Fernando Botero for donating the sculpture The Cat to his hometown. It's in San Cristobal, Medellin.

Gabriel Jaime Rico (@RICOGabriel) wrote [es] about the importation process for “The Gat” and its installation in San Cristóbal:

#elgatodebotero fue importado desde Italia por @plazamayormed y será instalado en el parque biblioteca “Fernando Botero” de San Cristóbal.

#TheCatByBotero was imported from Italy by @plazamayormed and will be installed in the Fernando Botero park in San Cristobal,Medellin

Esteban Vegue V. (@estebanvegue) mentioned [es] ”The Cat” sarcastically and as an analogy of the thieves that wander Medellin:

Esperemos que “El Gato” de Botero coja tanta “Rata suelta” que hay en Medellín.

We hope that “The Cat” by Botero catches as many “Thieving Rats” as there are in Medellin.

Camilo Durán Casas (@cduranca) called Botero [es] a noble representative of the country and praised his birthday making allusion to his human and professional values:

El maestro Fernando Botero a sus ochenta años está en la cúspide de su madurez artística y humana. Un orgullo para Colombia.

The master Fernando Botero and his 80 years are on the cusp of his artistic and human maturity. A point of pride for Colombia.

Samir Yesid Urazán (@samurga) repeated the phrase [es] used frequently by Botero when he is asked about his final years:

“Sólo temo tener que vivir sin poder pintar.” Fernando Botero

“I only fear living without the ability to paint.” Fernando Botero

Estefanía Ruíz (@estefaniaruizZ) commented on the subject [es] of Holy Week and the Stations of the Cross, though she admits to preferring the artistic rendering of the stations:

Al único viacrucis que me encantaría ir a ver es la obra del maestro Fernando Botero.

The only stations of the cross that I would like to see are the works by master Fernando Botero

While La Silla Vacía [es] completed an analysis of the latest Botero donations, in other media [es] and on Twitter [es] the comments and reports on this subject have multiplied.

'The Cat' by Botero, Medellín. Image from Telemedillín on Flickr  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

'The Cat' by Botero, Medellín. Image from Telemedillín on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

There are some who took time to allude to Botero's works in a playful tone, like Eduardo Morales (@EduardoMorale93) [es] who pokes fun at himself in this tweet:

Yo sí hubiera sido un excelente modelo… Pero para las pinturas de Botero! #ViernesSanto #SemanaSanta

I would be an excellent model… for Botero's paintings!! #HolyFriday #HolyWeek

But others did not share the same administration for the works or style of Botero. Sergio Araujo (@sergioaraujoc) [es] criticized Botero for his dismissive comments of other painters in Colombia:

Fernando Botero “No tengo cuadros de ningún pintor Colombiano porque no admiro a ninguno.” Uffff ¡Terrible frase! despectiva, despreciativa.

Fernando Botero “I don't have any works by Colombian painters because I don't admire any of them.” Ach, terrible thing to say! Contemptuous and unappreciative.

Jorge Rocker (@jorgerocker) [es] also does not share any love for Botero, questioning the motive behind his ”donations” in Colombia:

Botero es feliz tramando bobos con los “regalos” que hace de sus esculturas….si, me cae mal ese tetramalparido :)

Botero is happy deceiving fools with his “donations” that he does with his sculpture….yeah, I don't like this 4 fold bastard.

Bitter Swet (@InvokedDream) [es] comments that he didn't enjoy the Botero paintings on exhibition in the Fine Arts Gallery in Mexico:

Hoy fui a la expo. de Botero en Bellas Artes; Puras pinturas de gordas feas y todas iiug y mal encaradas, y bueno, la verdad no me gustó.

Today I went to the exhibition of Botero's works at the Fine Arts Palace; just paintings of ugly fat women and all uuug, not great faces. Really I didn't like it.

Also from Mexico, Jesús Martínez Gutiérrez, from the blog Del castillo literario, spoke about Botero's style [es]:

Botero es un sólido continuador del modelo del arte como representación, o como reproducción de lo que hay, aunque su técnica no sea calcar la realidad sino inflarla para encontrar lo bello más allá de los límites de volumen real de las personas o de las cosas.

Botero solidly continues the representative art model, or better said the reproduction of what is, although his technique does not capture the reality but rather exaggerates or inflates reality to find the beauty beyond the limits of real volume of people or things.

In the same blog, besides referring to the artist's activities across the world, he comments about the exposition in Medellin [es]:

La exposición desvela el detallado estudio y el amor que el artista colombiano siente por la pintura italiana del Renacimiento. Botero aborda el tema de la pasión de Cristo desde contextos tan diversos como Manhattan o los pueblos antioqueños. El artista permanece fiel a los eventos de la historia de Cristo y también al singular estilo con el que ha conquistado la fama.

The exposition unveiled the detailed study and love the Colombian artist feels for the Renaissance Italian paintings. Botero approaches the passion of Christ from contexts as diverse as Manhattan or small Colombian villages. The artist remains faithful to the events of Christ's story and also to the particular style that he has used to achieve fame.

On April 19, his birthday, Botero will be recognized in the Botero Museum [es] in Bogota, Colombia in a production with public school children and authorities.

  • Ronnie Daelemans

    Ronnie Daelemans and the members of the Abe-x-team working on the database of Artbooksexplorer, under construction, have downloaded this article about Fernando Botero; it is a must. We thank and greet sincerely the world-famous artist, the author of the article, the editor and all collaborators of Global Voices, as well as all Art-lovers around the world.

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