A dramatic display of Colombia and its culture

Fernando Botero’s work runs deeper than his larger-than-life subjects

  • “After Velázquez” by Fernando Botero,  oil on canvas, 2006. – Courtesy Winnipeg Art Gallery

  • “Dancer at the Barre,” by Fernando Botero,  oil on canvas, 2010. – Courtesy Winnipeg Art Gallery

  • Right: “Melancholy,” by Fernando Botero,  oil on canvas, 1989. – Courtesy Winnipeg Art Gallery

Described as abstract, humorous, satirical, saddening and undeniably beautiful all at once, Colombian-born artist Fernando Botero is a living legend.

Known for constantly altering the proportions of his subject matter, Botero’s collection, The Baroque World of Fernando Botero, is currently exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The exhibition, which includes over 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures, is a dramatic display of Colombia and its culture through the epic proportions that make up Botero’s trademark.

The paintings are a magnificent display of colours, and the bronze sensual sculptures standing eight feet tall and weighing 4,000 pounds depict a beauty that is all very, well… Botero.

His work features political undertones, particularly the Abu Ghraib series of 2005 – which exposes the Abu Ghraib camp during the war on Iraq – and the violent series of work depicting Colombian drug cartels in 2004.

This art, a critical expression of politically motivated killings, adds depth and emotion to the otherwise round, cartoonish figures.

From his sardonic paintings, to his substantial sculptures, to his politically critical commentary, Botero’s art has a wide appeal. His signature trademark, however, can’t be missed. Let’s just say the WAG just got a whole lot heftier.

But among the paintings displayed at the WAG are the intricate portraits of bulging, round women in scenes depicting colloquial Colombian life.

The Widow illustrates a large woman standing amidst her chaotic household, staring out at the onlooker. She has a chubby cat in hand and her three chubby children play at her feet.

The First Lady shows a plump first lady wearing a bright gold and orange sash, green eye shadow and a pink-toned dress, sitting on a stocky horse against a backdrop of what seem to be inflated trees.

From his sardonic paintings, to his substantial sculptures, to his politically critical commentary, Botero’s art has a wide appeal.

His signature trademark of drawing large figures, however, can’t be missed.

Let’s put it this way: the WAG just got a whole lot heftier.

The Baroque World of Fernando Botero is on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery until Sunday, Feb. 27. For more information, visit www.wag.ca.

Published in Volume 65, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 20, 2011)

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