“Latin America is one of the few places left in the world which can be transformed into myths.” Fernando Botero.
Fernando Botero was born in Medellin, Colombia. By the age of 16 he was contributing illustrations to the local newspaper, El Colombiano. In 1951 he moved to Bogota where he had his first international show at the Leo Matiz Gallery. A year later he left for Madrid to study fresco technique and art history in Florence. Returning to Colombia, he exhibited at the Biblioteca Nacional in Bogota and began teaching at the School of Fine Arts at the National University. Botero’s early work was influenced by various styles such as Abstract Expressionism, but it was the Italian Renaissance which provided his primary inspiration.
Botero moved to the United States in 1960, settling in New York where he remained for ten years. During this period he began to experiment with creating volume in his paintings by expanding the figures and compressing the space around them. Whether
painting imaginary group portraits or parodies on the work of the Old Masters, this technique has endured throughout his career. For his subject matter he takes characters that must have populated the towns of his childhood: parents with their children, priests, nuns, bishops and soldiers. Each is depicted on a larger than life scale frequently with a mythical air surrounding them.
His reputation is indisputable, being widely exhibited in Europe and North and South America and having received numerous awards including the First Intercol at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota. At first glance, Botero’s paintings seem to be humorous in nature, however, more often than not, his portraits appear to offer bitter social comment with frequent political overtones. As well as his paintings, he has made several public monuments in bronze, notably ‘Broadgate Venus’ (1990) erected in Exchange Square in London.