“I live to paint”: Botero turns 90
He was born on April 19, 1932 in Medellín, Colombia. His style transcends all barriers, and his work is admired worldwide. At ARTIKA we want to pay tribute to Botero on his 90th birthday. Congratulations, maestro, for being an artist who has never stopped creating.
Success is creative freedom
For Botero, the best reward is the satisfaction he gets from his understanding of art. “I live to paint, because that’s what I like”. Of course, he doesn’t mind the fact that he’s admired for his work, but he doesn’t seek recognition: “My life is defined by the pleasure I get from doing my work”.
More knowledge doesn’t mean better painting
Great ideas come from instinct, not from technique. The maestro keeps this idea very much in mind: “Honestly, I’d like to know less about painting (...) Sometimes I think we should keep that audacity that comes from ignorance”. Learning is indispensable for progress, but without letting knowledge hold you back. An artist has to be, at times, “a bit foolish”.
The talent of knowing how to choose
He acknowledges that he is the heir to masters such as Velázquez, Goya and Dürer, as well as Italian Quattrocento painting, which he discovered during his formative years. “What interested me most were Piero della Francesca’s pictorial solutions, his take on colour and form”. His opinion on the significance of influences is also important: “Having influences is fortunate, (...) the important thing is that they’re the right ones”.
Left. Después de Piero della Francesca, (diptych), 1998. Oul on canvas
Right. Díptico de los Duques de Urbino, (Retrato de Federico de Montefeltro), 1472. Tempera painting on panel
A unique style
A Botero work is instantly recognisable, because it features the elements that define his personal style as an artist. “I was always very clear about what my painting should be, I never cared that there were other movements. I decided to follow my own path... and I’m still following it”. On this point, he clarifies: “I have always maintained that my models aren’t fat. What interests me is the sensuality of their shapes and the expression of their volume”.
Las hermanas (detail), 2005. Oil on canvas
“The painting tells me what it wants to be”. Botero likes to revise his creative process: he checks his sketches, leaves the work aside and then re-analyses it from a different angle. “My work is like that of writers, that is, I ‘edit’ a painting”. Each piece requires its own rhythm and time, which is why he usually works on several at the same time. “When I'm excited about an idea, I do a whole series”. This is how Botero has developed ideas centred on the circus, bullfighting and social criticism.
Left. Carnaval, (detail) 2016. Oil on canvas
Right. Carnaval, 2016. Oil on canvas
Without a doubt, one theme that has played a prominent role in his painting is that of women, whether in everyday scenes or in his recreation of different mythological depictions. This facet is amply reflected in Botero’s Women, an exclusive ARTIKA edition that features a selection of drawings centred on the female universe. In Botero's own words: “Drawing is the soul of your work, the artist’s identity; it says everything”.
Left. Mujer sentada, 1999. Watercolor on paper
Right. Mujer con lápiz de labios, 2002. Watercolor and ink on paper
Botero in ARTIKA
- Botero’s Women is a unique limited edition of 2998 copies, created in collaboration with the artist.
- It includes the Art Book, with 45 plates, and the Study Book, which provides an in-depth look at the artist's life and work. The set is presented in an exclusively designed sculpture-case.
- An Art Book that reveals a world of powerfully expressive and suggestive images.
(All the quotes from Fernando Botero have been taken from the interview conducted by Lourdes Cirlot, Professor of Art History. The full text is included in the Botero’s Women Study Book).