„Really, I haven’t anything to tell the world – I can only bear witness. When the newspapers are thrown on the rubbish heap and people have forgotten what happened yesterday, art is the only thing that’s left”
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ROTTERDAM. This summer Kunsthal Rotterdam is proud to present a large-scale retrospective of the world-famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero (1932). This selection from Botero’s own collection provides a panorama of the artist’s personal favourites from his considerable oeuvre. ‘Botero: Celebrate Life!’ (2 July till 11 September 2016) present almost a hundred paintings, sketches and pastels as well as a few sculptures, including the enormous eye-catcher ‘Caballo’, Botero’s famous sculpture of a horse, announced kunsthal.nl.
„It is special that the Kunsthal has curated the exhibition in close collaboration with Fernando Botero himself”, underlines Kunsthal director Emily Ansenk. ‘He recently celebrated his 84th birthday and is still very active. Fernando Botero is a multi-faceted artist who draws on both the Latin American tradition and the history of European art. His work appeals to a very broad group of art lovers all over the world and has only rarely been shown in the Netherlands. We look forward to introducing a new generation in the Netherlands to this extraordinary master and his visual representation of Latin American culture.”
Visitors will be able to see paintings of life in Latin America based on reminiscences from his youth, and reproductions of classical masters in the recognisable Botero style. The bull-fight and the circus are also featured in these works. Botero’s art is full of Latin American life…
„I regard my work as ‘figurative post-abstraction’, since I allow myself practically the same freedoms in the use of colour and form as abstract artists do. I look at the picture I’m working on first of all as colour: so I apply colour values spaciously onto the canvas until it is completely covered – almost like an abstract painting. Only later do I transform the colour elements into three-dimensional forms: what matters for me is what’s said ‘behind’ the colours and lines…” – adds Fernando Botero.
…The gigantic, inflated bodies and objects appear weightless in spite of their volume, which sometimes even seems to make them look as if they are floating. This volume is a recurrent feature in Botero’s work and gives his art an exuberance that can be comical or moving. The series of female Santas, inspired by the iconic images of female saints, is remarkable. Botero represents them as worldly heroines with meaningful accessories such as a bible or candle, putting their halo in sharp contrast with their clothing and posture.
„I think an artist has to be rooted in his own country. This lends honesty to what he does. All great art belongs to a specific place and is identified by this localisation. In Latin America most artists follow the art trends as represented in New York, London or Berlin. This has led to a cultural colonialism, which I have avoided. Art has to be local first of all in order to be universal later”, says the artist. ‘Botero: Celebrate Life!’ shows how Fernando Botero creates a magical world full of characters and scenes from daily life, of which politics and religion form an important part. Although his work appears at first sight to be airy and light-hearted, the violent history of his native country Colombia can be felt. His origin and background have influenced Botero profoundly, which finds expression directly in his works of the president, executions and weeping widows, and indirectly in his paintings of people partying, dancing with expressionless faces under the light of naked light bulbs.
„The purpose of art is not the imaging of reality, but the creation of one’s own world”, says Fernando Botero. He is a multi-faceted artist who draws on both the Latin American tradition and the history of European art. He pays homage to famous works by such Old Masters as Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), Jan van Eyck (c.1390-1441) and Piero della Francesca (c.1415-1492). The works are a tribute to the artists whom he studied for years and an ode to the techniques, craftsmanship and aesthetics of the Old Masters. Religion is one of Botero’s favourite themes. He comments on it satirically in paintings of nuns, cardinals and popes. Other themes in his work try to capture the magic of everyday life in Latin America. For example, his images of bull-fights include not only the matador, but also the singers, musicians, dancers and various members of the bull-fighter’s family. His still-lifes show the fruits and beverages of the South American continent with their brilliant colours and popular delicacies. And in his paintings of the circus we can recognise the comical and absurd postures in which not only the constantly recurring volume but also the use of colour are highly determinant elements.
1932 Fernando Botero was born on 19 April in the Colombian trading centre Medellin a s the second of three sons. Attended elementary school and the Jesuit grammar school. Botero became interested in painting at an early age. His artistic precocity was evident in an illustrated article he contributed to the Medellin newspaper El Colombiano when he was seventeen. Titled Picasso and the Nonconformity of Art it revealed his avant-garde thinking about modern art.
1949 Botero’s illustrations, primarily nude drawings, are published in the daily paper El Colombiano.
1951 moves to Bogota, contacts to the artistic avant-garde there. First solo exhibition in the Leo Matiz Gallery.
1952 Botero shows his pictures – painted under the influence of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) – once more in the Leo Matiz Gallery. The painting ‘At the Coast’ is awarded second prize at the IX Salon of Colombian Artists. First trip to Europe, which takes him at first to Barcelona.
1953 Trip to Paris. Botero studies the Old Masters in the Louvre and works on copies. In Italy he discovers the art of the Early Renaissance and fresco painting.
1955 Returns to Bogota. Marries Gloria Zea.
1956 Moves to Mexico City, where his son Fernando in born. Intensive study of pre-Colombian folk art. His drawing ‘Still Life with Mandolin’ in which the resonance board of the instrument is over-dimensional in size compared to its soundhole provides the impetus for Botero’s voluminous language of forms that still characterises his work today.
1958 Birth of his daughter Lina. Professor of painting at the Bogota Academy of Art. The painting ‘Camera deglisposi (Homage to Mantegna)’ is awarded first prize at the XI Colombian Salon, after having been rejected beforehand by the jury.
In 1959, Fernando Botero shows his ‘Picture of Mona Lisa’ at the ‘Age of Twelve’ at the V Biennale of Sao Paolo; the New York Museum of Modern Art purchases it in 1961.
1960 Birth of his son Juan Carlos. Moves to New York and gets to know the leading representatives of the New York School of Painting, including Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) and Mark Rothko (1903-1970). Divorce from Gloria Zea.
1964 Botero marries Cecilia Zambrano and relocates his studio to the Lower East Side.
1966 First major exhibition in Europe in the Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden. Exhibition in the Milwaukee Art Center, which signals Botero’s breakthrough in the States.
1977 Intensive preoccupation with sculpture.
1979 Peripatetic exhibitions in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, the USA, and Japan. In 1983 the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York purchases the painting Dance in Colombia.
1999 30 monumental sculptures are exhibited on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
2000 Botero donates the museums in Medellfn and Bogota not only 200 of his own works, but also 100 masterpieces from his collection of classical modernism, including pictures by Mark Chagall (1887-1985), Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901).
2004 The tortures perpetrated by American soldiers in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib were circulated throughout the world, motivating Botero to produce a series of paintings and drawings. „Well, I have never tried to be ‘en vogue’. I always followed my own ideas, never those of others. I stand up for my ideas, even when they are contrary to what is being preached at that moment”, says Fernando Botero.
2011 Botero lives and works in Paris, New York, Montecarlo and Pietrasanta (Italien)…
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The Kunsthal Rotterdam is full of Latin American life this summer! During the exhibition ‘Botero: Celebrate Life!’ the Kunsthal is organising weekly Latin Life Sundays with music, dance, food, cocktails, theatre, circus and poetry.
Enjoy the music, dance, food and cocktails and the theatre, circus and poetry AND the art of Botero in the Kunsthal and the Museumpark!
Latin Life Sundays!
Sunday, 31 July, 14.00
Salsa meets Pop
Sunday, 7 August, 14.00
Theater, step into the personality
of Latin American characters
Sunday, 14 August, 14.00
Dance, dance, dance!
(from capoeira to salsa)
Sunday, 21 August, 14.00
Torero (without bull, WITH elegant Paso Doble)
Sunday, 28 August, 14.00