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Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian artist famous for his sculptures and paintings depicting figures and people in exaggerated large sizes. Whereas others use exaggeration to create a caricature or emphasize a humorous trait, Botero’s style called Boterismo uses flat colors and more than Rubenesque proportions for everything in the frame.
He prides himself as “the most Colombian of Colombian artists.” He gained prominence after he won first place in the Salon de Artistas Colombianos in 1958. During his teens he decided to be an artist and pursued learning art and painting. He studied in Barcelona and Madrid in Spain, as well as in Paris, France and in Florence, Italy. He now lives in Monaco but he spends one month a year in his native Colombia. He also has residences in Paris, France, in Pietresanta, Italy, and in Evia (Euboea) in Greece.
Botero developed his art, which is considered as situational portraiture. His style is famous for “fat” figures, proportionally exaggerated bodies. Following an abstract style, he tries to isolate himself from art trends.
Botero’s style looks to be made with whimsy, and a touch of satire. However, he denies that there is any implied satire in the style itself. There have been instances when he created works with intent at social commentary. In 2004, he created paintings and drawings about the drug wars in Colombia and the violence it brought with it. These works were exhibited at the National Museum of Colombia, to which he later donated them.
After the paintings about the drug wars, he created works which were inspired by the abuses of the American armed forces on the prisoners of Abu Ghraib. He made more than 85 paintings and 100 drawings about this topic, and these were first exhibited in 2005 in Europe. These were later exhibited in two locations in the United States in 2007. There was interest in buying these pieces, however, he would not sell them. Instead, he donated the Abu Ghraib works to museums.
Boterismo is not a style which engages in fat shaming. Except for the fact that his work shows fat people, he does show any malice towards the concept of being fat in society. There is no indication otherwise. The drawings were not meant to be hilarious at the expense of fat people. The style itself tends to use flat colors, resulting in figures which has less emphasis on the curves. In his sculptures, the objects and people follow gentle curves, and look no different from his drawings or paintings.
Botero has created a style all his own, which is iconic and unique. He has strived to create an easily identifiable signature, which is universal and abstract. Other artists have tried to emulate his style, or used it as a jumping board in creating their own style. It would take some time before these followers would be able to create a lasting copy of his style.
At 84 years old, Botero is still active and working on his art.