SANTA ANA, CA.-
For the first time in 30 years, world-renowned artist Fernando Botero unveils an exhibition in California when The Baroque World of Fernando Botero opened at Bowers Museum
. The exhibition has been organized by Art Services International
The exhibition features 100 paintings, sculptures, and drawings, dating from the 1950s to the present, of Botero's favorite works as well as pieces he reacquired years after they left his possession. All the works are generously on loan from the 77-year-old Colombian artist's personal collection and many have never before been seen in public.
The exhibition, which remains on view at Bowers Museum through December 6, 2009, in the Janice Frey Smith and Robert Gumbiner Galleries, includes a selection of recent sculptures never before shown in North America.
Recognized worldwide for his unique style of voluminous forms and sensuous figures, Botero's work takes on religion, politics, and history with a critical and comical approach.
As a painter, sculptor, and draftsman, Botero (b. 1932) depicts the comedy and tragedy of human life in moving expression, mocking observation, and sometimes deep, elementary emotion.
Working in a broad range of media, Botero has created a world of his own, at once accessible and enigmatic, with a particular blend of violence, serenity and beauty.
Botero's roots are in Medellín, a Colombian town close to the Andes Mountains. There he drew upon his first images of the Spanish colonial baroque-style, a movement of extravagant richness, featuring sumptuous decorations that flourished on the walls of every church in South America.
Botero has spent most of his years as an artist away from his native Colombia, but his art has maintained an uninterrupted link to Latin America. He uses baroque imagery in works such as Our Lady of Colombia (1992), where he portrays himself as a small boy carrying a diminutive Columbian flag in the arms of the Madonna, or in depictions of his mother as a widow desperately struggling to survive with three young children. Botero also shocks viewers with images of terror and violence, referring to the political instability, attacks, kidnappings, and torture prevalent in his county.
The exhibition follows Botero in his extensive studies of the history of European art. He looked to European masters such as Velázquez in Spain; Ingres, Delacroix, and Courbet in France; and Renaissance artists in Italy. He also admired contemporary artists like Pablo Picasso and Giacometti.
Botero turned his creative attention to Mexico, where the monumental murals by Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros had a profound impact. He absorbed himself in the dramatic self-portraits of Frida Kahlo and her idiosyncratic interpretation of Latin American folklore, and was intrigued by the mysteries of Pre-Columbian artifacts.
Another important theme illustrated in the exhibition is the pomposity and misery of contemporary life in Latin America, including the pretentious appearance of presidents and first ladies as observed by Botero's satirical eye. A section is presented on everyday life in South America: women observed in the intimacy of their boudoir, street scenes, dance halls, and the suggestion of houses of ill repute.
Botero's superb craftsmanship may be most evident in his drawings, especially those executed in pastel. His pastels have a thoroughly finished look and a richness of color and structure rarely seen in modern art, and have been compared to the master drawings of Ingres, as well as the Vollard Suite and early etchings by Picasso.
He also found the opportunity to convert his ideas into bronze and marble sculptures, which have become a seminal element in his oeuvre. Botero's monumental bronzes were seen along the Champs Elysées in Paris, in front of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and along Park Avenue in New York.