Fernando Botero in December 2006
|Born||Fernando Botero Angulo
19 April 1932
|Known for||Painter, sculptor|
|Spouse(s)||Gloria Zea (divorced)
Sophia Vari (current)
Nobody ever told me, 'Art is this.' This was good luck in a way because I would have had to spend half of my life forgetting everything that I had been told, which is what happens with most students in schools of fine arts.
I had wanted to be a sculptor throughout life, but to do so, I had to stop painting.
Before anything else, I started painting bulls and matadors. That was my initiation to paint.
In a photo, you just do a click, but in art you have to put in so much energy. This concentration of energy and attention says something that other media cannot say.
Art is always an exaggeration in some sense; in color, in form, even in theme, etc… but it has always been this way. It is the same with the nature of some works by Giotto or Massacio, or the color of life as expressed by Van Gogh.
Bullfights have so much color. Not just the matador but also the bull, the arena, and the public. It's all very festive.
My popularity has to do with the divorce between modern art, where everything is obscure, and the viewer who often feels he needs a professor to tell them whether it's good or not. I believe a painting has to talk directly to the viewer, with composition, color and design, without a professor to explain it.
All the animals I've painted always have a relationship with man. I have been told that part of the knowledge of the human anatomy comes from animals.
Sketching is almost everything. It is the painter's identity, his style, his conviction, and then color is just a gift to the drawing.
I love art so much because of curiosity. At the start of a painting, I know 10 percent of what the painting will be, and then I have to improvise the whole thing.
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.
I had an uncle who took me to the ring in Medellin when I was 15 years old. In school, we had someone who taught us how to bullfight.
Expression without culture is flat. Many artists come out of art school and start doing things that don't last. They are audacious because of ignorance. They are irresponsible.
I often think about death, and it saddens me to leave this world and not be able to paint more. I love it so much.
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.
The only duty an artist has is in the quality of the art. There is no moral obligation to denounce. An artist confronted with a tremendous injustice sometimes feels inclined to say something. Denouncing the situation is the artist's choice.
Art is important because when people start to forget, art reminds them what happened. Like 'Guernica.' People would not remember the tragedy of Guernica today if it were not for that painting.
I have the sensation of doing something good for people, more than being a trendy artist or a successful artist.
Bullfights are a very cultural thing. I know many people think it's cruel, but so many things are cruel. Hunting, the electric chair, wars. These are all cruel things as well.
The circus is a global theme. It exists in all parts of the world – maybe not in Africa, but it exists in Asia in all parts. In Latin America, it's difficult to find a person who hasn't gone to the circus.
There's nothing more superficial to do than to paint a beautiful woman. The most beautiful portraits in art were of ugly women. If you paint Brigitte Bardot, it's a disaster. Sunsets, you have to stay away from sunsets. You paint a sunset, you are in great danger.
You paint what you know best; what you went through as a teenager and child. My world is the one I got to know in Medellin; I never paint anything else other than that.
I love my country, and it hurts not to be able to see my country, as I did for so many years. I hope that I will one day be able to live in a peaceful Colombia.
People say, 'What a discipline, painting so much.' I say, 'No, I love it.' Nothing amuses me as much as my work. To have discipline would be not to paint.
I was drawing a mandolin, and I made the sound hole very small, which made the mandolin look gigantic. I saw that making the details small made the form monumental. So in my figures, the eyes, the mouth are all small, and the exterior form is huge.
An artist is born like a priest is born. If they are born an artist, I would tell them art is not a game: it is something very serious which completely requires everything you have to give.
I have seen Colonial churches since I was very small, Colonial painting and polychrome sculpture. And that was all I saw. There was not a single modern painting in any museum, not a Picasso, not a Braque, not a Chagall. The museums had Colombian painters from the eighteenth century and, of course, I saw Pre-Columbian art. That was my exposure.
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.
I'm the most Colombian of the Colombians, even though I've lived 47 years outside of Colombia. I've lived 13 years in New York, and I never did a painting about New York. I've lived in France more than 30 years, and I've never painted Paris.
I believe that it's better to have a conviction, believe strongly in something, and then the convictions create a style that reflects your mentality.