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Fernando Botero Angulo (born April 19, 1932) is a Colombian figurative artist. His works feature a figurative style, called by some “Boterismo”, which gives them an unmistakable identity. Botero depicts women, men, daily life, historical events and characters, milestones of art, still-life, animals and the natural world in general, with exaggerated and disproportionate volumetry, accompanied by fine details of scathing criticism, irony, humor, and ingenuity.
Self-titled “the most Colombian of Colombian artists” early on, he came to national prominence when he won the first prize at the Salón de Artistas Colombianos in 1958. Working most of the year in Paris, in the last three decades he has achieved international recognition for his paintings, drawings and sculpture, with exhibitions across the world. His art is collected by major museums, corporations and private collectors.
While his work includes still-lifes and landscapes, Botero has concentrated on situational portraiture. His paintings and sculptures are united by their proportionally exaggerated, or “fat” figures, as he once referred to them.
Botero explains his use of these “large people”, as they are often called by critics, in the following way:
“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.
Botero is an abstract artist in the most fundamental sense, choosing colors, shapes, and proportions based on intuitive aesthetic thinking. Though he spends only one month a year in Colombia, he considers himself the “most Colombian artist living” due to his insulation from the international trends of the art world.
In 2004 Botero exhibited a series of 27 drawings and 23 paintings dealing with the violence in Colombia from the drug cartels. He donated the works to the National Museum of Colombia, where they were first exhibited.
In 2005 Botero gained considerable attention for his Abu Ghraib series, which was exhibited first in Europe. He based the works on reports of United States forces’ abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. Beginning with an idea he had on a plane journey, Botero produced more than 85 paintings and 100 drawings in exploring this concept and “painting out the poison.”The series was exhibited at two United States locations in 2007, including Washington, DC. Botero said he would not sell any of the works, but would donate them to museums.
In 2006, after having focused exclusively on the Abu Ghraib series for over 14 months, Botero returned to the themes of his early life such as the family and maternity. In his “Une Famille” Botero represented the Colombian family, a subject often painted in the seventies and eighties. In his “Maternity”,Botero repeated a composition he already painted in 2003, being able to evoke a sensuous velvety texture that lends it a special appeal and testifies for a personal involvement of the artist. Interestingly, the Child in the 2006 drawing has a wound in his right chest as if the Author wanted to identify him with Jesus Christ, thus giving it a religious meaning that was absent in the 2003 artwork.
In 2008 he exhibited the works of his The Circus collection, featuring 20 works in oil and watercolor. In a 2010 interview, Botero said that he was ready for other subjects: “After all this, I always return to the simplest things: still lifes.”