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Chubbiness on hand

Botero’s legacy in Medellin

Even though Botero has been living away from his hometown for over 50 years, at 84, the painter and sculptor of round forms keeps his work alive and strengthens his ties with his origins

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Fernando Botero’s last official visit to Medellín took place in February 2015 to promote the exhibition of the collection The Circus and, as usual, countless people showed up to try to touch him, ask to take a selfie with him or, simply, to say “thank you, master.” They are everywhere. Voluminous and sensual figures (a universal seal of his work) fill the landscape with smooth and round hills, which resemble the mountains that surround the city with a population of 2.5 million, the capital of the department of Antioquia. Parque de San Antonio, Parque Berrío and Plaza Botero contain several of his sculptures. The plaza that carries his name alone is home to 23 of them, including Eve, Woman with Mirror and Man on Horseback. The artist turned his hometown into a permanent exhibition.

Even though it’s not dedicated exclusively to Botero’s work, Museo de Antioquia, located across from Plaza Botero, in downtown Medellin, has three halls containing his paintings and sculptures. The last sculpture Botero donated to Medellin was The Cat, in 2012, which is installed at Parque Biblioteca San Cristóbal. However, the artist’s relationship with Medellin doesn’t involve just donations and exclusive exhibition halls for his work. Botero himself stressed the importance of the city in his artistic life, even though he left at the age of 18 to live between France, Italy and New York. The Cathedral, the cantinas, the politicians, the neighborhood of Lovaina, Plaza de Toros... Such works as Louis XVI on a Visit to Medellin were used to explain the history of the Antioqueña capital. For all this, it’s unlikely that even the most unprepared visitor doesn’t discover why Medellin is known as the City of Botero.

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Fernando Botero

Colombian sculptor and painter, Fernando Botero (Medellín, 1932) is one of Latin American most internationally renowned living artists. His work, known for portraying figures and people in exaggerated volume, is present in 46 museums worldwide, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogota.

Text Mauricio Builes
Photos: Juan Arredondo, Shutterstock e Getty Images