Rotund and voluptuous forms, characteristically simple and expressive figures, people, animals and objects dominate the works of Colombian-born Fernando Botero. The language of his colourful and often luminous works is understandable for all; he opens up a seemingly distant Latin American reality and transforms it into a familiar world. His works are linked by the underlying quality of universality and his use of the most elemental gestures renders his ideas of the world and its various phenomena visible. Botero is a productive artist and a leading figure of contemporary art whose works can be found in public collections in countries across the world including Japan, Russia, Germany, Finland, Italy, Colombia and the United States. A selection of the masterpieces of the last twenty years can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest
between 30 September 2010 and 23 January 2011.
Some sixty, mostly large oil paintings and sculptures will be presented at the exhibition, allowing an insight into a unique world that can be described by a kind of striving for monumentality and timelessness rooted in the ancient Greco-Latin tradition, while demonstrating how the artist draws inspiration and pays tribute to the classical European masters and invites visitors to the land of Latin America throbbing with life and colour.
Based on their themes, the paintings can be grouped into still-lifes, paraphrases, as well as the places and events of life in Latin America: everyday streets, colourful houses, the circus and bullfighting arenas. The concept of the exhibition is not exclusively built around a thematic arrangement of the works since it also focuses on the precedents that appear in the painting of the Colombian artist.
Boteros paraphrases encourage the viewer to look for and study these precedents. An important aspect of the development of the artists painting style is that he earned his degree not at the academy of fine arts in Bogota, the second most important such institution in Latin America, established by the Mexican Felipe Santiago Gutiérrez, but in Madrid, where he had more opportunity to study works by European masters and make copies of them. At the same time, Botero also emulates several iconographic types and genres of Latin American painting (portraits of crowned nuns, ex votos) as well as masters (especially Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco). In his painting Botero successfully combines and reinterprets the various artistic influences he experienced, while often returning to the copies and still-lifes that he had grown accustomed to during his academic studies.
On the one hand, the Budapest exhibition seeks to present the most recent works of one of the most famous contemporary representatives of Latin American painting while drawing attention to their intellectual and pictorial precedents; and on the other hand, it aims to provide an insight into modern Latin American art.