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Unmistakable Botero

Unmistakable Botero

“Even children recognize a Botero”, stated the most universal of the Colombian visual artists of the 20th century, who died this Friday at the age of 91, in his last interview with this newspaper. He was right. The rotund and voluminous figures of Fernando Botero, his fat men, his fat women, consolidated an unmistakable style throughout the world and for spectators of all ages. The commotion in Colombia has been extraordinary at the death of the prolific painter, sculptor and draftsman, who achieved levels of popularity with his work comparable to those that Gabriel Garcia Marquez, all distances aside, achieved with literature. They are two such personal styles that they have not generated disciples, only imitators.

His self-taught biography took him from the provincial and religious Medellin of the 1930s—the same one that later occupied a good part of his work—to Mexico, New York, Paris and Monaco, where he ended up making his home. There he continued painting until his last days. And always against the current of the dominant abstract and conceptual trends in contemporary art. In 2003, he argued with the Venice Biennale for forcing him to remove 20 of his sculptures, spread across the Serenissima, so that they would not coincide with one of the most prestigious international avant-garde competitions. It was the fight between the exclusive canon of the 21st century and a volcanic creator of icons. Or variants of an icon. Aside from current aesthetic orthodoxy, the fame that his fidelity to figuration gave him increased when the main capitals of the world exhibited, not without controversy, his monumental bronze figures, from the Champs Elysees in Paris to the Paseo de Recoletos in Madrid. , passing through the city of the lagoon.

Botero was always generous with his country. He donated both his extensive collection of modern art —with works by Monet, Picasso and Bacon—, which is exhibited for free in the Banco de la Republica museum in Bogota, and a good part of his paintings and sculptures, which gave rise to the Plaza Botero, an emblematic place in Medellin, a city that has decreed seven days of mourning. He always said it was the best decision he had ever made in his life.

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