Artist of the week: Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero (Columbian, b.1932) is celebrated for his painted and sculpted scenes featuring animals and figures with inflated proportions, reflecting the artist’s predilection for satire, caricature, and political commentary in his work. Born in Medellin, Botero began exhibiting his paintings there in 1948, and later worked as a set designer in Bogotá. In the 1950s he traveled to several different European countries, including Spain, Italy, and France, to study the work of Renaissance and Baroque masters. He also traveled to Mexico to familiarize himself with the current Mexican avant-garde. Botero became renowned for the varied source material he drew upon, from Columbian folk imagery to canonical works by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), and Francisco de Goya (Spanish, 1746–1828).

In his depictions of contemporary Latin American life, he portrays the poverty and violence prevalent in Columbia in somber images, as well as in his iconic portraits of inflated figures, typically satiric portrayals of Latin American presidents, first ladies, and government officials. A meeting with Dorothy Miller from the Museum of Modern Art in the early 1960s proved to be a turning point in his career; she acquired his work at a time when abstraction was the celebrated idiom, and he later exhibited his work in a major exhibition at the museum, solidifying his international reputation. In the 1970s Botero moved to Paris, where he created large figural sculptures with his signature inflated forms. He remains engaged with images of his Latin American home city, and with overtly political imagery; his recent works include large paintings of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in a direct commentary on the war in Iraq. Botero has exhibited his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, the Maillol Museum in Paris, the Palazzo Benezia in Rome, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the National Museum in Bogotá. He currently lives and works in Paris, Montecarlo, and New York.



Reclining Woman, 1985, Bronze, h: 83.8 x w: 137.2 x d: 80.6 cm.


Woman Seated On A Cube, 2006, Bronze, h: 27 x w: 32 x d: 43 cm.

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What you have to do…artists and non-artists alike!

The main thing is to keep in the loop, exhibit regularly, enter prizes, scholarships and apply for grants, get involved in community projects. Well that’s what i’ve been doing anyway. It’s a slow road. But one the main factors is supporting an artist by buying their work. Buying it when they exhibit, buying it inbetween shows. Pats on the back and kind words don’t put food in my belly. So if you’re not an artist then you should be buying art. Remember this, today’s emerging artist is tomorrow’s star, I bet Pablo Picasso’s earliest collectors were happy they bought his work while he was relatively unknown. Even if you’re an artist, support your peers by buying and trading works.

So, if you are an artist, exhibit, buy your fellow artists work, enter prizes, intern and volunteer etc. And as for the future collectors, BUY ART!

Artist of the week: Zhang Dali

Zhang Dali (Chinese, b.1963) was born in Harbin, China, and studied at the Beijing Academy of Art & Design. After finishing school, he travelled to Italy, where he discovered Graffiti Art. In the 1990s, he was the only Graffiti artist in Beijing. Zhang became known for the 2,000 giant profiles he created of himself—completed between 1995 and 1998—seen throughout Beijing. The profiles of his bald head were intentionally placed alongside chai characters, which were painted by city officials as a way to indicate demolition. These images became subject of a media debate in 1998.

From 2003 until 2005, Zhang portrayed 100 life-sized resin sculpture of immigrant workers posed in numerous postures. Each sculpture or “worker” had a designated number, the artist’s signature, and the title, Chinese Offspring, tattooed to each of their bodies. Hung upside down, these sculptures commented on the fragility and uncertainty of life, as well as the lack of power these immigrant workers hold to change their own fates. Aside from Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990) and Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956), Zhang was one of the only artists to appear on the cover of Time magazine. He has exhibited his work at the International Center for Photography in New York, Courtyard Gallery in Beijing, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo. In 2006, Zhang participated in the Gwangju Biennale in Korea. He currently lives and works in Beijing.



Chinese Offspring No. 209, 2010, synthetic resin, h: 149.9 x w: 69.8 x d: 25.1 cm



Unititled, 2012, Acrylic on vinyl, 152 x 122 cm


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