A selection of the famous modernist’s paintings and sculptures bring his distinctive rounded figures to Doha’s Anima Gallery
Not many artists can say that their name has become synonymous with a particular style of art within their own lifetime. Fernando Botero is one of those few. Hailed today as one of the most important living artists, the Colombian painter and sculptor was born in 1932. His unique style has come to be known as ‘Boterismo’, and while those who have come into casual contact with his work might think of him as ‘the guy who paints fat people’, critics, art lovers and collectors applaud his innovative approach to volume, form and proportion. Botero’s work is on show for the first time in the Gulf region this winter at Doha’s Anima Gallery, where the solo exhibition Fernando Botero and the Sensuality of Forms is running until mid-January. Featuring a selection of paintings and sculptures completed between 2008 and 2014, the exhibition pairs the smooth, polished curves of the artist’s bronzes with vibrant paintings that evoke the warmth and colour of Colombia.[two_columns_one] [/two_columns_one] [two_columns_one_last] [/two_columns_one_last][divider]
Botero’s fascination with volume began in the late 1950s, curator Fernando Pradilla told Le Journal. The artist was painting a guitar and decided to make the circular hole beneath the strings very small. The result was a guitar that appeared to have an enormous body. The artist says he has “never painted a fat person in his life”, Pradilla explained. What Botero is interested in is the sensuality of curvaceous forms, whether human, animal or those of inanimate objects.
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One of the polished black sculptures on show at Anima Gallery captures the rotund figure of a man riding a horse. Like its rider, the animal seems to have been formed solely from a mass of spheres, its legs thickset and rounded, its tail a bulky, solid-looking cylinder. Nearby, a painting of a couple dancing, one of Botero’s favourite subjects, captures a besuited man supporting a red-headed women in a shocking pink dress. Her broad hips and sturdy calves are offset by dainty feet, encased in red high heels. Botero may be 82 years old, but he still paints every day, says Pradilla. His scenes capturing provincial Colombian life – a family having a picnic, a gathering of men playing cards – convey a strong sense of his native culture while retaining a universal appeal.
Those who haven’t yet seen them in the expansive flesh should do so while they have the chance.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Rose Tinted issue #28, on page 44.