Opera Gallery Miami is thrilled to present its solo show on renowned artist Fernando Botero: A Love Letter to Latin America, in conjunction with Miami Art week. With this exhibition, we celebrate the ubiquity of Botero's oeuvre and explore the intrinsic role Latin America has in the artist's life and work.
Born in 1932 in Medellín, Colombia, Fernando Botero has demonstrated his mastery of form and content for decades through his signature “Boterismo” style. His situational portraiture rendered with exaggerated volume seamlessly ranges in tone from richly sensual to starkly political. With depictions of matadors, ballerinas, priests, middle-class families and more, Botero's evocative paintings, drawings and sculptures tell a nuanced story about the cast of characters, both real and imagined, who parade through the artist's social critique interpretation of society. With his singular artistic vision, Botero invites us to revel in life's pleasure and pain while questioning society and effectively redefining fixed beliefs about the aesthetics of proportion and scale.
Because art is always an exaggeration; the painter exaggerates the color or the shape or exaggerates the line. There is always an exaggeration.”
“I paint what I see, what moves me. I don't try to create something that is purely aesthetically pleasing.”
“For my entire life, I've felt as if I had something to say in terms of sculpture. It's a very strong desire...Pleasure—that of touching the new reality that you create. Certainly, in a painting, you give the illusion of truth, but with sculpture, you can touch its reality. . . If I paint a knife in my pictures, it's imaginary, but if I sculpt it, then the sensation of having it in your hand is real— it's an object from your spirit, it's a sensual experience even in its execution. It brings a special joy to touch the material with your hands.”
“All my life, my girlfriends are always skinny. Beauty in art has nothing to do with beauty in reality. Why do you like primitive art? Because there is beauty in the deformity. Sometimes paintings that people consider realistic are not at all. Raphael figures look realistic, but in real life, they were deformed.”
“Sketching is almost everything. It is the painter's identity, his style, his conviction, and then color is just a gift to the drawing.”
“Art is the language that transcends borders and speaks to the souls of people from all walks of life.”
“An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”
“Sculptures permit me to create real volume one can touch the forms, one can give them smoothness, the sensuality that one wants.”
“I create my subjects somehow visualizing them in my style. I start as a poet, put the colors and composition down on canvas as a painter, but finish my work as a sculptor taking delight in caressing the forms.”
“The circus allows one to be logical and unreal at the same time. In the circus, all is possible: there can be a man with two heads or a character with a green face.”
Image copyright Enrique Palacio
One of the most celebrated contemporary Latin American artists, Fernando Botero was born in Medellin in 1932. After a stint at a matador school, Botero decided art was his true calling and in 1948, aged 16, he had his first exhibition. In the early 1950s Botero travelled through Europe, studying art at Madrid's Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, followed by a spell in Paris spent absorbing the works of the Old Masters at the Louvre. He continued to Florence, where he studied the frescoes of the Italian Renaissance, discovering techniques from a bygone era. From 1961 to 1973, he resided and worked in New York city before dividing his time between Paris, Monaco, and Tuscany. He passed away in Monaco on September 15, 2023, at the age of 91.
Botero gained widespread recognition for his unique artistic approach characterized by the use of smooth, inflated forms and surprising variations in proportions. This distinctive style was a manifestation of the artist's relentless pursuit of imbuing volume with a tangible and authentic presence. His body of work encompasses a wide array of subjects, ranging from everyday life in Colombia to iconic art historical references like the Mona Lisa, and the injustices stemming from the abuse of authority.
Botero created monumental sculptures for public spaces in many major cities, including New York (Park Avenue), Paris (Champs-Élysées), Rome and Monte Carlo. His works are found in many important private and public collections, such as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.); Ho-am Museum (Seoul); Israel Museum (Jerusalem); Kunsthalle Nuremberg (Nuremberg); Museo d'Arte Moderna del Vaticano (Rome); Museum Moderne Kunst (Vienna); Neue Pinakothek (Munich); Staatgalerie Moderne Kunst (Munich); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Tel Aviv); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York); The Museum of Modern Art (New York); and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York).