Arts & Entertainment

Medellin hails Botero, the artist who illuminates Colombia

By Jeimmy Paola Sierra

Medellin, Colombia, Apr 19 (EFE).- With art, flowers and music, Medellin on Tuesday celebrated the 90th birthday of Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero, one of the most important artists of the 20 century, with a gesture of gratitude for illuminating with his works a city that was living in darkness.

At the Antioquia Museum, located in the heart of the city where the artist was born on April 19, 1932, tribute was paid to the artist, who could follow it along with his family from Montecarlo, Monaco, and which had his voluptuous sculptures as the hosts, along with the inauguration of the “Botero 90 años” (Botero 90 years) exposition as the culmination of the celebration.

“Fernando Botero, the master, has not only been a vital artist for Medellin, the son of this land, but he has also been a promoter and a visionary,” the director of the Antioquia Museum, Maria del Rosario Escobar, told EFE, adding, “We owe him for (showing) Colombia’s best face.”

At the museum, which houses 189 works by Botero, 187 of which were donated by the artist himself, on Tuesday there were speeches acknowledging his talent and contribution and a colloquium about his life and work to celebrate his 90th birthday.

The public spontaneously waved bunches of flowers, applauded and shouted in chorus: “Thanks, maestro!”

Escobar said that for this celebration they were “rather active in remembering and keeping the memory and the presence of the maestro alive” in the museum and in the city as a whole.

“He’s always been a Colombian who’s been very linked to his native soil. He’s the most Colombian of everyone despite the fact that he hasn’t lived in Medellin practically since 1960, but he’s aware of the news and connected with us,” she said.

Regarding Botero’s reaction to the tributes, Escobar commented that he is “completely moved” and, although it’s been three years since he left Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, “we know that he feels great nostalgia for his homeland.”

Meanwhile, Antioquia Gov. Anibal Gaviria emphasized the generosity and simplicity of the painter and sculptor, who is recognized for his famous “fat” statues, and he thanked Botero for being an example of “love for his homeland,” which is present “in his work and in his life.”

“The human being has the same immense dimension as the artist,” the governor said.

The Botero 90 años exposition, curator Camilo Castaño said, was created using donations made to the museum and to Medellin between 1974 and 2012, which show the evolution and changes in Botero’s work and his transition to arrive at his characteristic style: hugeness and volume.

The exposition is divided into three groups of works, the first showing the “young Botero,” the second the “consolidated Botero” and the third, with the most recent donations, especially paintings in his “Way of the Cross” series and others evoking violence in Colombia.

Besides the exposition, the tribute included a visit to the “Scene with rider” mural, Botero’s largest work painted in 1960 and which for years was forgotten in a commercial arcade until it was rescued in 2021 by the museum.

Rounding out the presentation was the showing of a documentary film titled “Botero, an intimate look at the life and work of the master,” along with a performance by the Medellin Philharmonic Orchestra of the piece titled “Suite Botero” along with other compositions by Jaime Martinez inspired by Botero’s works.

EFE jps/joc/eat/bp

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